Natural and organic

Wakefern Food Group

Note from the editor

Natural and organic foods have caught a brisk tailwind during the pandemic, as consumers increasingly seek out food options with a health halo.

One element of this demand has played out in the increased demand for organic produce, which has seen its sales outpace conventional fruits and vegetables over the past year. This is after years of otherwise moderating growth.

Plant-based options, which also benefit from a natural cache, had gotten a window to win over consumers who faced empty meat cases in the early months of the pandemic. New entrants, brands and products in this space have flourished over the past year, in everything from plant-based meats to dairy alternatives to cheeses.

Clean label has also grabbed its moment as brands such as RXBAR and That's It make a small but mighty ingredient list a differentiator in a sea of competition. The trend has also encouraged big CPGs such as Mars, Hershey, Mondelez and Nestlé to whittle down their nutritional labels or invest in clean-label pioneers

It has also given ingredient suppliers such as Kalsec and Symrise an opportunity to offer more natural alternatives to artificial food ingredients as manufacturers rethink their formulations. 

Smaller manufacturers including Laird Superfood have gotten a leg up on their large CPG competition during the pandemic as they expand into new categories with a brand identity that embraces natural food options.   

In the following report, you'll read about some of the bigger developments over the past year that demonstrate the renewed potential of the natural and organic trend. They include:

  • How organic food has gotten a boost from the pandemic, but will face challenges in the months ahead
  • Ways in which the coronavirus crisis has shaped consumers’ eating habits for the better
  • Olam Coffee’s push to demonstrate that upcycled foods can charge up innovation
  • The swaps that food manufacturers are making as they strive for a tighter, more natural ingredients list

These represent only a sample of the insights ahead. Read on for more of the nuances and realities of this fast-growing space.


Samantha Oller Senior Editor

The pandemic is making natural ingredients more popular, Symrise says

The company said the trend is driven by younger consumers and is likely to have staying power even after the coronavirus pandemic is over.

• Published Nov. 12, 2020

Organic produce sales growth topped 14% in 2020

The pandemic has helped push double-digit increases, but challenges loom for the category, from unsteady consumer income to uncertain supply chains.

• Published Jan. 21, 2021

Olam Coffee upcycles cascara to create superfruit products

Although typically discarded, the company is now using the pulp and skin of the coffee cherry fruit for healthy food and beverages while doubling revenue from the raw material.

• Published Dec. 3, 2020

Healthy food on the menu as coronavirus improves eating habits

The pandemic has accelerated demand for plant-based meats and immunity-boosting products from companies such as Impossible Foods and Unilever.

• Published July 1, 2020

Kalsec takes an all-natural approach to food trends

The family-owned producer of colors and ingredients has tapped into growing demand for plant-based and sustainable offerings.

• Published Feb. 18, 2021

Following its IPO, Laird Superfood battles large CPGs with natural ingredients

The plant-based nutritional company's co-founders said it is planning to move into other food categories beyond beverages, while stressing the 5-year-old business is not for sale.

• Published Oct. 1, 2020

Organic sales are up during the pandemic, but long-term challenges loom

A report from Mercaris found there are risks to the multi-billion dollar market because of threats to consumer income, livestock processing and import challenges.

• Published April 20, 2020

Ingredients getting a boost from clean label trend, report says

L.E.K. Consulting said replacing artificial items with cleaner, more natural solutions presents a major opportunity for companies, investors and retailers.

• Published Feb. 6, 2020

The growth in demand for natural and organic foods

Natural and organic foods have seen skyrocketing demand throughout the pandemic, with consumers increasingly seeking out food options with a health halo. Major brands are shifting their strategies as plant-based, clean label and organic options have become the best-sellers.

included in this trendline
  • Organic produce sales growth topped 14% in 2020
  • Olam Coffee upcycles cascara to create superfruit products
  • Kalsec takes an all-natural approach to food trends
Our Trendlines go deep on the biggest trends. These special reports, produced by our team of award-winning journalists, help business leaders understand how their industries are changing.
Davide Savenije Editor-in-Chief at Industry Dive.