Eat organic? Pay less in L.A.

Angelenos may live in a state with the worst budget crisis of the moment, but at least they pay less for organic groceries than other big cities. At least that's the finding of a pricing study from IBISWorld.

The study looked at three product categories: Private label or store brands, commercial brands, and organic items. It analyzed similar items in the nation's three largest cities, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

The cost of groceries depends largely on what part of the country you live in. Chicagoans get a cheaper groceries than the next two bigger cities (but pay among the highest sales taxes), except for organic items. If you want to eat more naturally, you'll pay less in L.A.

But organics in general will set you back more, about 18% more than branded products and 37.6 % more than store brands, according to the findings.

Comparison shopping is incredibly difficult. There are so many variables, not the least of which is human error. And you have to ask yourself how the information will be used or what the objective was in the first place. Here, it seems, the authors wanted to assess where future growth is coming from.

According to George Van Horn, IBISWorld senior analyst who oversaw the study, the market for organic foods is pretty robust, even with higher prices in a poor economy. In 2007 and 2008, the organic market grew pretty quickly, in the double digits, but this year it slowed to a 4% increase in revenue.

Between store brands, which comprise roughly 11% of the grocery market and organics at a staggering 10%, the national brands are really being squeezed. As for the future, look for more organic lines from both established national brands and store labels and product manufacturers look to cash in on our desire for fresh and natural.
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