Survey sheds light on food purchasing habits

Buckeye Farm News

Consumer confidence in food safety is at its highest point in seven years, with 88 percent of shoppers “completely” or “somewhat” confident in the safety of food at the supermarket, according to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report released earlier this month.

More than 90 percent of shoppers agree “strongly” or “somewhat” with the statement that they trust their grocery stores to ensure the food they eat is safe and more than half of shoppers agree strongly.

Consumers continue to be most comfortable with food grown in the United States versus imported products.The majority of shoppers drive less than five miles to their primary store, but 60 percent do not shop for groceries at the store closest or most convenient to their home. Two-thirds of respondents said the No. 1 reason they bypass the closest store was to seek lower prices. Another important factor in selecting a primary store was great selection and variety cited by 23 percent of shoppers.

The survey found that while consumers are interested in nutrition, money worries are complicating their ability to make healthy choices when deciding what to eat. An overwhelming 90 percent believe home-cooked meals are healthier and more affordable than eating out.Consumers continue to show strong support for locally grown products with eight in 10 saying they purchase these products occasionally. While there is no agreed upon definition of what exactly is “local,” 44 percent of consumers say state lines determine what they consider local, and another 41 percent consider local as a product being produced within a certain mile radius from where they live. For some retailers, local is determined by travel time, whereas for others the state, county or the mileage rate is the determining factor.

Despite enormous pressure on price and value in the midst of the recession, interest in organic is holding steady, which is a positive indicator for future growth, according to FMI. Among those who have decided not to continue purchasing organic, 85 percent said cost is the main reason. Another important reason cited by 38 percent is their preference to buy locally grown foods instead.

Retailer and supplier environmental and sustainability efforts have not been greatly impacted by the recession. A supermarket’s sustainability efforts are considered very important to 18 percent of shoppers. Consumers’ commitment to sustainability continues to grow, especially those behaviors that require little or no consumer sacrifice. The majority of shoppers (58 percent) claim to have strong environmental tendencies and nearly one-third describe themselves as having moderate environmental practices.

Source: Food Marketing Institute

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