Sustainability is Important to Most American Food Shoppers, Survey Finds
A new survey of American consumers provides some potentially surprising findings that indicate American food shoppers are very mindful about what they place into their shopping carts, and it's not just about price and taste.
While food commercials on television constantly bombard Americans with offerings that focus on price-point and convenience, a 2014 survey by Cone Communications found that people care about where their food comes from and how it is produced. In a poll of more than 1,000 people from a broad cross-section of the shopping public, 77 percent of respondents said sustainability was an important factor in deciding what to buy, while 74 percent said buying locally was a significant factor.
Understandably, food safety is something that 93 percent of shoppers consider very, or somewhat, important when making food purchasing decisions, slightly outweighing concerns over nutritional value (92 percent). Interestingly, though, while 74 percent of consumers indicated buying locally is a consideration in making decisions, fewer, at 54 percent, said buying organic is a consideration. Evidently shoppers are prepared to spend extra dollars to support their "buy-local" sensibilities, with 66 percent of those surveyed saying they would pay more, and sacrifice variety, in order to purchase locally-produced foods. The top reason provided for buying locally is that people want to support local businesses and communities, which they deem more important than the potential environmental or health benefits of doing the same.
Another of the study's findings is that despite industry resistance to labeling genetically modified (GMO) foods, consumers want to see companies step up their level of transparency about how food is produced. Eighty-three percent of those surveyed said they wished companies would disclose information and educate consumers about GMOs in their products — especially as 55 percent of people didn’t know whether GMOs were good or bad for them, and 51 percent didn't understand what GMO food is.
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Grocery shopping image via Shutterstock.