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 (94%) and nutritional value (74%). 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 locally produced; 69 percent sustainable packaging; 69 percent animal welfare; and 65 percent protects and renews natural resources.
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.
Americans' convictions are so strong in their commitment to purchase locally produced foods that nearly half (46%) 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, executive vice president, 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%) consider sustainability when buying food and would like to see more options available that protect the environment (81%).
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.
"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, senior vice president – Sustainable Business Practices, Cone Communications. "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."
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