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    Consumers Show Confidence in Fresh-Cut Produce

    NEWARK, Del. -- A recent survey conducted by the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) here shows that consumers are confident about the safety of fresh-cut produce, and expect to purchase more fresh-cut in the coming year.

    NEWARK, Del. -- A recent survey conducted by the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) here shows that consumers are confident about the safety of fresh-cut produce, and expect to purchase more fresh-cut in the coming year.

    On February 1-2, 2006, PMA commissioned a survey of 1,000 primary food shoppers nationwide to assess consumer perception of the safety of consuming fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. The survey was repeated on May 3-4, 2006, several days after Dateline, a nationwide television program aired on NBC, focused on the presence of e-coli in bagged salads. PMA's initial survey was conducted to create a baseline of consumer perception prior to the airing of the program while the second survey was conducted to determine if perceptions had changed.

    "Although this research was conducted, in part, to find out whether or not perceptions were affected by the broadcast, we also discovered some great news about consumer attitudes towards fresh cut," said Kathy Means, PMA's vice president of government relations.

    In February the primary shoppers who were interviewed said they like having access to fresh, pre-cut produce, that they buy a lot of it, and have very little concern over its safety. Most consumers (71 percent in May; 74 percent in February) say they rely on their own personal experience when making decisions about food safety.

    Those who rely on comments from family and friends constituted 33 percent in May and 35 percent in February. Twenty-two percent in May and 26 percent in February said they relied on information from government health experts. The fewest cited media coverage as being the source they most relied upon for this information (16 percent in May and 17 percent in February).

    Approximately 87 percent of consumers say they have purchased fresh-cut fruits and vegetables in the past year, which is greater than the 82 percent consumers reported in February. Four in ten say they have purchased more than they purchased the previous year. One-third project they will increase their purchases next year.

    According to the analysts at Opinion Dynamics Corporation, the independent public opinion research firm that conducted the surveys, the television program did not appear to have affected attitudes.

    Questions posed to shoppers included frequency of purchases, reasons for increases/decreases of purchases, whether or not they wash bagged produce, among others. One thousand primary shoppers nationwide were surveyed in February and another one thousand primary shoppers nationwide were surveyed in May. The results are valid to within +/- 3.1 percent at the mid-range of the 95 percent confidence interval.

    Both surveys are available in their entirety through a paid, online subscription available to both members and non-members. For information, visit http://www.pma.com

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