3 Out Of 4 Food Shoppers Care About Sustainability In Their Supermarket Decisions

Nothing motivates sustainable consumption like food. Shoppers want to know whether something is locally grown, organic, GMO (and so on) before they’re interested in whether a car or pair of jeans is produced in the U.S., or made from pesticide-free cotton. Food has an emotional hold.

You can see as much from a new survey, which shows how high numbers of Americans consider sustainability issues when food shopping. Three-quarters (77%) rate sustainability as a priority, with issues like packaging and animal welfare figuring in their thinking.

The poll, conduced for Cone Communications, found that 89% think about where items are produced, that two-thirds would pay more for a local product, and that four-fifths (81%) want options that protect the environment. Three-quarters (74%) said they want companies to do a better job of explaining how their products affect the environment (presumably in a truthful way).

The survey was conducted online with a representative sample of 1,003 adults 18-and-over. “As the local food movement goes mainstream, it’s not just about the ‘mom and pop shop’ or farm stand. Even large companies have a role to talk about where they source food and the respective impacts on local communities,” says Alison DaSilva, Cone’s executive vice president, in a press release.

Interestingly, the survey showed strong support for GMO labeling: 84% want more disclosure (even though 55% also said they didn’t know whether GMO food is good or bad for them). That could be significant at a time when many states are considering GMO labeling measures.

Women and millennials (aged 18-24) were most likely to care about food-related sustainability issues. For example, 73% of women would pay more for local food, against 60% of men, and 52% would sacrifice variety to eat local, compared to 38% of men.BS