Published 9 years ago.
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New research released Thursday reveals Americans are willing to sacrifice variety and dollars in order to eat more consciously. Although family satisfaction reigns supreme (97 percent), health and nutrition (93 percent) and sustainability (77 percent) are now also important factors when deciding which foods to buy, according to the 2014 Cone Communications Food Issues Trend Tracker.A number of health and sustainability issues are top of mind for the food shoppers surveyed, including food safety (93 percent) and nutritional value (92 percent). But at least two-thirds of Americans say they prioritize a variety of other issues weigh into their food-shopping decisions, including:
New research released Thursday reveals Americans are willing to sacrifice variety and dollars in order to eat more consciously. Although family satisfaction reigns supreme (97 percent), health and nutrition (93 percent) and sustainability (77 percent) are now also important factors when deciding which foods to buy, according to the 2014 Cone Communications Food Issues Trend Tracker.
A number of health and sustainability issues are top of mind for the food shoppers surveyed, including food safety (93 percent) and nutritional value (92 percent). But at least two-thirds of Americans say they prioritize a variety of other issues weigh into their food-shopping decisions, including:
Nearly nine-out-of-10 Americans (89 percent) say they consider where a product is produced when making food-purchasing decisions, and two-thirds (66 percent) would pay more for food that is produced close to home. Although locally sourced food provides environmental, economic and health benefits, respondents said supporting local businesses (64 percent) is the primary reason for buying local. Other motives include:
Americans’ convictions are so strong in their commitment to purchase locally produced foods that nearly half (46 percent) would sacrifice variety to do so.
“As the local food movement goes mainstream, it’s not just about the ‘mom and pop shop’ or farm stand. Even large companies have a role to talk about where they source food and the respective impacts on local communities,” says Alison DaSilva, EVP of Cone Communications. “Using local as a broader value proposition helps companies of all sizes talk about the social and environmental benefits of responsible sourcing.”
More than eight-in-10 Americans (83 percent) consider sustainability when buying food and would like to see more options available that protect the environment (81 percent). Their motivations span from the altruistic to the self-serving, including:
Consumers look to companies to help them understand the broader implications of their food purchasing decisions, with nearly three-quarters (74 percent) stating they want companies to do a better job explaining how their purchases impact the environment.
“Although consumers are shopping with an eye toward sustainability, they are equally motivated by personal needs and a desire to improve society,” says Liz Gorman, SVP of Sustainable Business Practices at Cone. “Messaging must be two-fold. Companies must clearly demonstrate the impact consumers’ purchases are having on the environment, while reinforcing health, taste and quality attributes.”
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:
“The GMO debate is dominating media and social channels,” says Gorman. “Consumers are confused and the onus is on companies to help them understand GMOs and be transparent about if and how GMOs are used in the products they are buying.”
It’s no surprise Americans are most influenced by those closest to them when it comes to food-purchasing decisions, with spouse or partner (45 percent), friends (27 percent) and kids (19 percent) topping the list. Yet, food companies and healthcare providers (16 percent) are close behind as the next most influential sources of information. Americans are not only choosing who they listen to but also when they access information, with 43 percent of consumers accessing information online throughout the day.
“Today’s food and beverage companies have an opportunity to connect with consumers on the issues they care about, with the people they trust, in the channels where they are,” DaSilva says. “The days of empty claims and blanketed approaches to marketing to consumers are over; consumers want to know their favorite food brands understand their unique needs and what matters most to them.”
There’s no question women are the most thoughtful and empathetic consumers on a variety of health and sustainability issues, and although both men and women are shopping with sustainability and local in mind, women are more likely to do so for selfless reasons:
Millennials, ages 18-24, have a somewhat different take on the most important health and sustainability food issues. Beyond food safety and nutrition, other priorities include:
“Grocery-shopping decisions no longer hinge on price and taste alone. Consumers worry about where their food is made, what’s in it and how it affects the environment,” says DaSilva. “The stakes are higher for companies to not only provide food options that meet consumers’ modern needs but communicate attributes in a clear and transparent way.”
Published Mar 14, 2014 4pm EDT / 1pm PDT / 8pm GMT / 9pm CET