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Consumer considerations when buying food products

October 2018 Consumer Preference Outlook
When it comes to the question of being a trusted source of information about food, farmers and ranchers possess a distinct advantage.

Last week’s column highlighted survey results from a recent Food Marketing Institute (FMI) project (The Transparency Imperative:  Product Labeling from the Consumer Perspective). FMI notes in the survey report that, “Seemingly all of a sudden, consumers began to demand more information about their food products. This has caught the attention of food retailers, suppliers and other stakeholders.”

Last week’s graph focused on perceptions around responsibility versus trust with respect to transparency:  consumers seemingly perceive such responsibility to largely rest with manufacturers and governmental agencies.  But when it comes to the question of being a trusted source of information about food, farmers and ranchers possess a distinct advantage. 

This week’s illustration shifts gears toward consumer priorities when it comes to making purchasing decisions. Survey results indicate ingredients and general nutritional information are the most important components associated with evaluation of food products. 

However, it’s interesting to note that nearly 80% cited, “How a product was manufactured or grown” to be important (versus not important) in the decision-making process. From another perspective, after all the ingredient and nutritional information is provided, the next most important thing to consumers is knowledge about where their food comes from. 

Meanwhile, various product claims such as organic also remain important to consumers – 42% cited such claims as either important or extremely important – with another 30% stating those product claims to being somewhat important.

Understanding consumer perceptions around trust and transparency are extremely important. That’s especially true as the beef industry evolves around the issue of traceability. The key component being implications of enhanced supply chain traceability and transparency on improved beef demand.

How do you perceive these consumer responses? What’s your assessment of the general trend regarding consumer demand for transparency and their desire to know more about where food comes from. How might this impact the beef industry going forward? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Nevil Speer serves as an industry consultant and is based in Bowling Green, KY. Contact him at


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