Ceres Organics Global Marketing Manager Catherine Allan told FoodNavigator-Asia that it aims to help consumers make “better choices”.
“As the largest organic manufacturer in the Health & Wellness category (NZ Supermarkets), Ceres Organics accounting for 26.5% of value turnover. [We are] growing at 18.1%, and also have the highest unprompted brand awareness in this sector,” said Allan.
“[We have found that the] primary reason [our] consumers choose organic products is to look after their own and their family’s health. Often consumers look to organic after a health issue for them or someone in their family,” she said.
“We target all these demographics with making better choices for them, their family and the environment.”
The company is adopting a ‘inspire and appeal’ approach to targeting their consumers and expand their market, making sure that their products appeal to customers across the spectrum.
“[Our approach] is by inspiring consumers to make a choice to introduce organics into their lives with recipes, education and everyday use. […] [It it important for us to be] appealing to both highly engaged organic purchasers, as well as those who are just starting on their organic journey,” added Allan.
“[The strategy is to] continue to innovate, with on trend-based products and sustainable packaging solutions, staying a few steps ahead of our consumers awareness and wishes where we can.”
A clear example is Ceres Organic White Quinoa, which is a complete gluten-free protein grain, certified as IBD Fair Trade. It seeks to meet the requirements of conscious consumers demanding naturalness, ethics & sustainability in their food choices.
Developments within New Zealand
With the organic sector in New Zealand experiencing rapid growth as of late, Ceres has been adapting and growing alongside the demands of the consumers.
“[Within New Zealand], we have seen a big shift in consumer shopping habits. More and more people are becoming more conscious and values-driven, seeking better food choices for themselves and their families,” said Allan.
“We’ve experienced considerable growth in our brand and supermarkets want what we have, more so than ever.
“Our mission is to make organic food available to more people, so that works well for us, as we want as many people as possible to have more choice, and easy access to quality organic products. We are continually educating our consumers about organics to drive awareness.
“The [eventual] mission is to make organics available to all.”
Commenting on how Ceres has contributed to the growth of the local organic market, Allan said: “Since our story began, over 35 years ago, Ceres Organics has been at the forefront of the organic movement. Bringing organic products to NZ, supporting farmers’ transition into organics and supplying organic ingredients to food manufacturers all contribute to driving this growth.
Ceres is also pointing its strategy outwards, looking to strengthen their export business.
“With organics being only 2.2% of supermarket sales, and the domestic organic market growing twice as fast as conventional (as per the 2018 OANZ report), there remains significant opportunity to continue help driving this momentum to inspire and educate the switch to organics with consumers both in NZ and in export markets,” said Allan.
“[Exports-wise, we] are currently exporting into Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Pacific Islands. We plan to continue this expansion within these countries & beyond.”
Products and more
Many of Ceres’ best-selling products are self-manufactured. These include their Certified Organic Brown Rice Crackers, Certified Organic Seaweed Snacks, and Certified Organic Almond Butter.
Also worthy of mention is a Certified ‘in transition’ almond butter, a product created using almonds from farmers in Chile that Ceres is in partnership with, supporting a transition from conventional to organic.
Alongside the growth of the organic sector, the changing trends surrounding organic demand also play an important role in Ceres’ strategy.
“Ethics, sustainability & health are driving vegetarian, vegan & ‘flexitarian’ lifestyles, increasing demand for plant based options,” said Allan.
“We aim to educate and inspire consumers moving towards a plant based diet, with the majority of our product range vegan, and through plant based recipe inspiration & education.”
Eight out of 10 New Zealanders purchase organic products at least fortnightly, which translates into it being more of a general behavioural shift as opposed to a fringe lifestyle choice.
“As lives become increasingly hectic, consumers are looking to more simple diets, as close to nature as possible, consumers are more aware of what’s in their food, and what they don’t want in their food,” she said.
“Organics meets this need, representing a better choice for their health and their family.”
Apart from this, she also cites plant-based foods as one of the fastest growing segments globally.
Dealing with consumer demand
Driven by a rise in conscious consumerism, and the power of the internet and social media, consumers have more insight into businesses than ever before.
They are empowered to make an impact through the products they buy, the places they work, and generally the brands they are willing to associate with.
In view of this, today’s consumers, especially millennials are expecting ever more of products that are labelled organic, and Ceres has had to adapt in several ways to keep up with this demand.
“Millennials are projected to be 75% of the global workforce by 2025. This shifting population is seen to be the driver of sustainable practices, [as] they are connected to information & knowledge that is readily available and quickly shared,” said Allan.
“[As such, the] role of organic certification is going to become increasingly important as the assurance for consumers of sourcing integrity and validity on claims of a product, and that the product has been certified organic in accordance with worldwide standards.”
The 2018 OANZ Market Report
Ceres was one of the main sponsors of the 2018 Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) Market Report, and considers this a major feat.
“OANZ is the national voice of the New Zealand organic sector. Ceres Organics have been proud supporters of OANZ since it began, therefore sponsoring the OANZ Market Report is an integral part of supporting the organic sector in NZ,” said Allan.
New Zealand currently does not have a national organic standard, although the Ministry for Primary Industries are working with the organic sector to develop a regulation around this.
“BioGro, a member of OANZ, is New Zealand's largest and best-known certifier for organic produce and products. Ceres Organics has been independently certified organic with BioGro for about 17 years,” she added.