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Consumer confidence in the safety of foods and beverages sold in the U.S. has dropped over the past five years, according to market research firm Multi-sponsor Surveys, Inc.
Of the 2,100 adult consumers surveyed in the spring of 2013, one in six expressed a “great deal” of confidence in food safety, compared to results from 2008 revealing that one in four adults expressed such sentiments.
The safety of imported foods is now the most pressing concern among survey participants, followed by exposure to pesticides on foods, exposure to food-borne pathogens (e-coli, salmonella, etc.), and use of antibiotics or growth hormones in livestock.
Additionally, efforts to consume fresh, unprocessed foods have increased over the same time span that confidence in food safety has declined, according to the survey. Since 2008, the percentage of adults who strongly agree they "make a strong effort to consume fresh foods instead of processed foods" increased from 24 percent to 32 percent. Many are trying to eat both the cleanest and safest foods they can find.
Other findings include:
- More than 70 percent of adults have purchased foods or beverages with clean label package claims in the past year.
- The most popular clean labels include all natural ingredients, no artificial ingredients, no artificial preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, organic and no artificial colors.
- Millennials are the age group most likely to turn to organic foods.
"Our recent Clean Label study found Millennials more attracted to clean labels such as 'all natural,' 'organic,' 'gluten-free,' free-range,' and 'hormone-free,' than baby boomers or older adults who are more focused on sugar, sodium and whole grains,” said Karen Bundy, VP at Multi-sponsor Surveys.
"It appears current or looming health problems are primarily responsible for older adults' focus on avoidance of food negatives such as sodium, sugar and fat," Bundy told Progressive Grocer. "Diagnoses of age-related conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and the like transform intentions into action for many Boomers & Matures. Younger adults' focus on attributes relating to food quality and purity most likely reflects the luxury their current health status affords them to take a more moderate long-range preventive approach to healthy eating -- an approach also driven by concern for their childrens' health."