Consumers Asking for More Sustainable Food

2014 Cone Communications Food Issues Trend Tracker


Consumers want more sustainable food options and are willing to pay more for it.

In this just released study, a survey of 1003 people has found what we have been saying for years, people do want healthy, local, GMO free food. So the question is; “Is your label and your ability to tell your story important?” Telling your story is more important than ever!

Okay, so we can see from these numbers that telling our story is important, now the next question is; “How do we tell our story?” It is important to tell your story every way that you can. Most ranchers don’t have a problem verbally telling their story but beyond that, what do we do? Unless it is your goal to stay small enough that you can always handle every part of your sales process by yourself, you HAVE to have your story written down. It needs to be in writing on your labels, in your logo, in every brochure, newsletters if you mail or email and on your website. When your story is reflected in all these marketing “components”, they become congruent and effectively work together to communicate your message, your brand, to your customer. Done properly, your marketing materials accurately tell a story of what makes you different and unique. Your message of producing the best quality product in a sustainable way will be powerfully shared and your brand will be developed and recognizable.

If you’re still wondering if you need a website or not, again, unless you are going to stay so small that you can always handle all sales directly, then YES, you need a website and it has to tell your story! One of the most important parts of your story today is told online, on your website. A website is your online brochure and 90% of your buyers will look at your website before buying from you, even in direct sales.

Consumers want to feel comfortable about the food they purchase as this study shows and really, we already knew. Consumers want YOU to educate them and you do that by telling your story. Consumers also want you to avoid GMO feed by a rate of 77% even if they don’t understand what it is. An effective website will take what the Consumer wants and answer all of those questions before they are even asked of you.

If you needed a marketing wake up call, us this study as that call and get these items fixed in your marketing today. If you need help telling your story or building a website, that is one of the many things that we do at Rockin’ Double J Consulting (the consulting division of the Grassfed Network). Shoot us an email or give us a call today and we will be glad to see how we can best be a support to you.

Here is the study so you can read the facts for yourself.

BOSTON (March 13, 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. Although family satisfaction reigns supreme (97%), shoppers consider health and nutrition (93%) and sustainability (77%) important factors when deciding what to buy.

A number of specific health and sustainability issues rose to the top as most important when hitting the grocery aisles, including food safety (93%) and nutritional value (92%). 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% locally produced
  • 69% sustainable packaging
  • 69% animal welfare
  • 67% non-GMO
  • 65% protects and renews natural resources
Farmers Market 2

Consumers Are Willing to Pay More to Eat Local

Nearly nine-out-of-10 Americans (89%) consider where a product is produced when making food purchasing decisions, and two-thirds (66%) would pay more for food that is produced close to home. Although locally sourced food provides environmental, economic and health benefits, consumers state supporting local businesses (64%) is the primary reason for buying local. Other motives include:

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

Americans’ convictions are so strong in their commitment to purchase locally produced foods that nearly half (46%) would sacrifice variety to do so.

Americans Seek Sustainable Food Options to Help the World and Themselves

More than eight-in-10 Americans (83%) consider sustainability when buying food and would like to see more options available that protect the environment (81%). Their motivations span from the altruistic to the self-serving, including:

  • 43% of Americans want to do their part to protect and preserve the environment
  • 39% believes the quality/taste is better
  • 38% wants to show their support for companies who are doing the right thing
  • 27% believes the products are healthier

Consumers look to companies to help them understand the broader implications of their food purchasing decisions, with nearly three-quarters (74%) stating they want companies to do a better job explaining how their purchases impact the environment.

GMO Confusion Persists – Consumers Look to Companies for Information

Eighty-four percent of consumers want companies to disclose information and educate them on GMOs in products because more than half (55%) 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:

Fresh Vegtables - GMO Free
  • 39% believes non-GMO foods are healthier
  • 32% worries about the effects on the environment
  • 24% questions the ethics behind the use of GMOs

Americans Rely on Friends and Family in Making Food Purchase Decisions

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%), friends (27%) and kids (19%) topping the list. Yet, food companies and healthcare providers (16%) 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.

Women and Millennials Take a Stance on Food Issues

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:

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

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:

  • 72% protect and renew natural resources (vs. 65% U.S. average)
  • 66% organic (vs. 52% U.S. average)
  • 66% supports a social issue and/or charity (vs. 49% U.S. average)
  • 61% locally produced (vs. 74% U.S. average)

“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.”

About the Research

The 2014 Cone Communications Food Issues Trend Tracker presents the findings of an online survey conducted February 3-6, 2014 by ORC International among a demographically representative sample of 1,003 adults, comprising 500 men and 503 women 18 years of age and older. The margin of error associated with a sample of this size is ± 3% at a 95% level of confidence. Some figures may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.

photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc
photo credit: ** RCB ** via photopin cc

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