According to a US public opinion poll published this summer by Consumer Reports® National Research Center:
- two-thirds of Americans are checking to see if their food is locally produced.
- the majority of consumers (59%) are also checking to see if their food is natural, though this term is not regulated and may mislead many consumers into thinking it means GMO free.
- the majority of consumers think that the natural or organic label on packaged and processed foods means that no pesticides, artificial ingredients or chemicals, or genetically modified ingredients were used; an even greater amount of consumers feel that this labeling should indicate this.
- US consumers want workers that produced their food to be treated fairly and most are willing to put their money where their mouth is.
- while only half of consumers think a humanely raised claim currently means that the animals were raised without cages, a clear majority of consumers (75%) think these claims should mean this.
- 92% of consumers demand that the government require that genetically engineered salmon be labeled as such.
- for the overwhelming majority of consumers very important or important objectives include supporting local farmers (92% of consumers), protecting the environment from chemicals (89%), fair conditions for workers (86%), reducing exposure to pesticides (87%), good living conditions for animals (80%), and reducing antibiotic use in food (78%). Avoiding GMOs (72% of consumers) and artificial ingredients (69%) are also crucial objectives for many consumers.
The study should make clear to industry that there are lots of votes for politicians to be had in mandating food labelling. The non-profit Consumer Reports has launched campaigns to have the US government ban use of the word ‘natural’ on foods and to require labelling of foods containing genetically modified organisms.
The full public opinion research report, containing much more data about US attitudes towards food, can be found at http://www.greenerchoices.org/pdf/ConsumerReportsFoodLabelingSurveyJune2014.pdf
GallonDaily is not aware of any similar recent Canadian opinion research that is currently publicly available.