Survey Says Nine-Out-Of-10 Americans Consider Sustainability When Buying Food

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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