AUSTIN, Texas (October 21, 2004) According to the 2004 Whole Foods Market Organic Foods Trend Tracker* survey released today, more than one-quarter of Americans (27 percent) are eating more organic products than just one year ago. Just two years after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented the National Organic Standards and mandated clearer labeling of organic products, the survey also reveals that more than half of Americans (54 percent) have tried organic foods and beverages and nearly one in 10 use organic products regularly or several times per week.

Americans are buying organic products for a variety of reasons, with more than half of respondents saying they believe organic foods are better for the environment (58 percent) and better for their health (54 percent). Additionally, 57 percent believe buying and using organic products are better for supporting small and local farmers. Almost one in three Americans (32 percent) believes organic products taste better, and 42 percent believe organic foods are better quality.

“The survey results echo national sales trends, with recent reports indicating organic food sales hit $10 billion and 20 percent sales growth last year,” said Margaret Wittenberg, Whole Foods Market vice president of governmental and public affairs. “When I started in the natural foods industry more than 25 years ago, most organic items were in the produce aisle. But today, the selection stretches throughout the store from farm-fresh produce to handcrafted pastas, cereals, dairy products, wines, cheeses, chocolates, grains, vinegars and almost every product imaginable. The sheer variety and the increasing number of organic products available allows our customers to find almost any organic product to fit their lifestyle.”

Despite wider variety throughout all aisles, produce still remains the number one category of organic food purchases, with 68 percent of the respondents who currently choose organic foods seeking fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Survey respondents are seeking other organic foods as well: bread or baked goods (26 percent), non-dairy beverages (26 percent), eggs (26 percent), dairy products (24 percent), packaged goods such as soup or pasta (19 percent), meat (22 percent), frozen foods (18 percent), prepared foods or ready-to-go meals (14 percent) and baby food (7 percent).

The primary barrier to trying organic products is still price; almost three-quarters (73 percent) believe organics are too expensive. However, with the growth of the organic foods industry, prices are becoming more competitive as the availability and variety increase. Whole Foods Market's own 365 Organic Everyday Value line, the first line of all value-priced organic products in the United States, was introduced in 2002 and now includes almost 200 products with an ever increasing line up ranging from pantry items and frozen vegetables to snacks and fresh produce.

The 2004 Whole Foods Market® Organic Foods Trend Tracker is an annual survey commissioned by Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI), the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket. The survey of 1,000 Americans, now in its third year, was conducted by Synovate in August 2004 and is representative of the United States adult population.