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.