A desire to protect people and the planet has been sweeping the U.S. and other countries for some time. Products aimed toward supporting those protective instincts, whether labeled “organic,” “natural” or “environmentally friendly,” are becoming increasingly popular — so popular, in fact, that sales of food, beverage, household and personal care items under the “natural” umbrella are expected to surpass $300 billion by 2023 and $400 billion by 2030, according to New Hope Network.

Pest management solutions are no exception. PMPs across the nation tell us that demand for green pest management products and services continues to climb as customers become more concerned about the environment and the health of themselves, their families and their neighbors. These highlights from the 2022 PCT State of the Naturals Market study offer insight into some of the issues pest management company leaders are taking into account as they address this growing demand:

A CONSCIOUS DECISION

The vast majority (87 percent) of PMPs who participated in the 2022 PCT State of the Naturals Market study reported that they are operating in markets where customers are very or somewhat environmentally conscious. It makes sense that their companies would be stepping up their natural product and service offerings.

“Austin is one of the most environmentally conscious cities in Texas,” says Joe Cantu of The Bug Master. “Our company has been around for 40 years, and we’ve focused on natural solutions for at least the past 20. As people spend more time on the internet and in social media discussions, their awareness about green pest management options grows. We get more and more requests for it all the time.”

Noah Gunter Besheer of Gunter Pest & Lawn sees a similar trend in Missouri. “Demand for green products is absolutely growing in the Kansas City market,” he says. “Consumers are becoming more aware of the ingredients in their food, soaps, shampoos and cleaning supplies. Many of these health-conscious consumers also care about the chemicals being used in their pest prevention treatments.”

Changing demographics often play a part in demand as well. Take Martinsburg, W.Va., for example, where a wave of industrial growth is bringing more young people and families to the area. “Late last fall, we started seeing a surge of new customers — primarily people 25 to 40 years old with a higher level of education than we typically see in this market,” says Brian Fausey of American Pest Control. “They want a green product that protects their children, pets and the environment.”

Fausey’s team is prepared to deliver. “When I opened my business in 2012, one of my priorities was to offer a green solution. I had seen a lot of unmet demand when I worked at other companies, and I was determined to meet the needs of every type of customer. If you want to survive in this industry, you have to cover the entire spectrum of needs.”

HOW WE GOT HERE

Even “old-school” companies have come around to appreciate natural products. Warren Remmey, who describes his San Antonio company Spider Man Pest Control in just that way, says his green business grows about 10 percent each year. “I was taught by the old generation of exterminators. We worked with products back then that were really toxic and demanded we do very precise treatments. I had the advantage of learning that old way and then of seeing the market transition to less toxic products,” he says. “I was skeptical about them at first, but as I tried them, I saw how effective they could be. Today, we give customers the opportunity to choose which type of program they prefer.”

Rebecca Coleman of Norris Environmental Solutions in Washoe Valley, Nev., says her dad, Lang Norris, learned old-school methods as well. Recognizing the risks, he was always trying to find a better way. The industry was using chemicals in the ’70s that are no longer on the market, she said. “And even though IPM practices were being introduced then, a lot of pest control operators continued to live by the glug method: If one glug was good, two must be better,” Coleman says. “My dad was always trying to do things differently, using less chemistry while getting great results. Our company was built on his commitment; we’ve been offering our customers effective organic solutions for 30 years.”