Consumers' Attitudes Evolve on 'Ethically Produced' Foods

Consumers' Attitudes Evolve on 'Ethically Produced' Foods

Food & Drink

Consumers' Attitudes Evolve on 'Ethically Produced' Foods


By Cari Martens

Survey data released this month by Context Marketing, a strategic marketing and communications firm, indicates that interest in ‘ethically produced’ food is moving from niche to mainstream.

As reported by Mark Dolliver in the trade journal Adweek, the survey, conducted in January, sought to identify the attributes that connote ethically produced foods in consumers’ minds.

Here a list of some of those attributes along with the percentage of consumers surveyed who agreed that foods must have in order to be considered ‘ethically produced’—

Avoid harming the environment – 93%
Meet high safety standards – 92%
Use environmentally sustainable practices – 91%
Avoid inhumane treatment of animals – 91%
Be produced to high quality standards – 91%

Although altruistic reasons scored high in the study, consumers had self-interest in mind to a significantly greater degree, with 60% agreeing that ethically produced foods are ‘healthier to eat’ and 58% agreeing such foods are ‘safer to eat.’ ‘Feel virtuous when purchasing…’ ranked lower at 43%.

Evaluating claims

Another part of the survey gauged consumers’ thoughts regarding claims they might find ‘on a food package or in a food advertisement.’ It asked which of these claims would lead them to believe a product was ethically produced. Below are listed percentages of respondents who said these claims are ‘important’ or ‘very important.’

Healthy/nutritious – 69%
No trans fat – 57%
No supplemental hormones – 55%
Humanely raised – 51%
No antibiotics – 51%
No artificial preservatives, colors – 51%
Produced in the USA – 51%
Natural – 50%
Produced locally – 45%
Sustainably produced – 38%
Fair trade certified – 37%
Organically produced – 36%
From small family farms – 31%
Artisan/handmade – 25%

The lower number for ‘organic’ raised some eyebrows. Bob Kenney, of Context Marketing, told Adweek that organic is no longer a big issue with consumers. Shoppers have begun to consider it the new standard, even in private label, especially since prices for organic foods have come down to earth.

Click here to read the full report from Context Marketing.

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