NOBULL: Consumers want companies to provide more sustainable food options

Consumers want companies to provide more sustainable food options

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By Michael Fielding on 3/17/2014

Americans are willing to sacrifice variety and dollars in order to eat more consciously, according to the 2014 Cone Communications Food Issues Trend Tracker. Shoppers consider health and nutrition (93 percent) and sustainability (77 percent) important factors when deciding what to buy.

Food safety (93 percent) and nutritional value (92 percent) were at the top of consumer concerns. But at least two-thirds of Americans prioritize a variety of other issues as significant factors in deciding what makes it into the shopping cart, including:

•74 percent prioritize locally produced
•69 percent prioritize sustainable packaging
•69 percent prioritize animal welfare
•67 percent prioritize non-GMO

Nearly nine out of 10 Americans (89 percent) consider where a product is produced when making food purchasing decisions, and two-thirds would pay more for food that is produced close to home.

Among the reasons for buying local:

•39 percent believe the taste and quality of the product is better
•31 percent have more trust in the standards for locally produced foods than other regions or countries
•28 percent believe the products are healthier
•26 percent think it’s better for the environment when food doesn’t travel as far

GMO confusion persists

Eighty-four percent of consumers want companies to disclose information and educate them on GMOs in products because more than half (55 percent) say they don’t know whether GMOs are good or bad for them. Despite this confusion, three in five Americans are on the lookout for non GMO-labeled foods when shopping. Reasons include:

•39 percent believe non-GMO foods are healthier
•32 percent worry about the effects on the environment
•24 percent question the ethics behind the use of GMOs

Both men and women are shopping with sustainability and local in mind, but researchers did find some differences:

•Women are more likely to consider sustainability because they want to do their part to protect the environment (50 percent vs. 36 percent of men), while men are more motivated by taste and quality (41 percent vs. 38 percent of women).
•Women are more passionate about local food options. They are more likely to pay more (73 percent vs. 60 percent of men) and will sacrifice variety to eat local (52 percent vs. 38 percent of men).

Millennials have a somewhat different take on the most important health and sustainability food issues. Beyond food safety and nutrition, other priorities include:

•72 percent want to protect and renew natural resources (vs. 65 percent U.S. average)
•66 percent support organics (vs. 52 percent U.S. average)
•66 percent support a social issue and/or charity (vs. 49 percent U.S. average)
•61 percent support locally produced (vs. 74 percent U.S. average)

The data come from an online survey conducted Feb. 3-6, 2014 by ORC International among a demographically representative sample of 1,003 adults (500 men and 503 women 18 years of age and older).