United Fresh report tackles consumer perceptions

11/12/2008 12:00:00 AM
David Mitchell

The chapter on product origin also touched on consumer perceptions about food safety. Asked which country they have the most confidence in, 92% picked the U.S., with Canada a distant second at 42%.

In initial polling, China (56%) ranked as the country U.S. consumers had the least confidence in, while Mexico (46%) was next-to-last. However, after public health officials focused their attention on Mexico during the salmonella outbreak, Mexico (60%) and China (50%) flipped positions in August polling.

If price and quality are equal, 83% of consumers said they were more likely to buy U.S. product than imports. However, less than half of consumers (48%) said they look for country-of-origin labels.

Eighty three percent of shoppers also expressed a preference for locally grown product when price and quality were similar.

In both questions about sourcing, the No. 1 factor driving the decision was support for growers. Perceptions about freshness, quality, safety and environmental impact also were factors.

In the environmental chapter, 63% of shoppers expressed a preference for recycled or recyclable packaging. More than a third were concerned about food miles.

In the chapter about different types of produce, whole product scored higher marks than pre-packaged product in every category but convenience, where 82% of shoppers picked pre-packaged product. However, whole product was preferred by at least 75% of respondents for price, environmental concerns, freshness and health benefits. Nearly 70% thought whole product was safer.

The entire report is available for sale at http://www.unitedfresh.org. Cost is $125 for United Fresh members and $195 for nonmembers.

Philpott said interviews for the second annual report will be conducted during the first quarter of 2009. She said members with topic suggestions should contact senior vice president of member services Victoria Backer at (202) 303-3400.


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