What Consumers Think About Food & Farming
Kim Kennett, Communications Specialist, Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan
Everywhere you turn these days, there's a growing barrage of campaigns that seemingly scrutinize agriculture. Just think about it: A&W's "no antibiotics" and "no added hormones" focus, the annual "March Against Monsanto", Loblaw's "meat sourced with integrity"; Sobey's "Certified Humane" program fronted by Chef Jamie Oliver.
It's all a bit disheartening and somewhat scary. At first glance, these sorts of campaigns seem to imply that farmers don't care about what they're feeding people or how they go about producing food. But do consumers really think that way?
The 2012 Ipsos Reid Study of Consumer Attitudes Towards Food and Farming conducted by Farm & Food Care Ontario demonstrates that the general public believes otherwise. In fact, the study shows that farmers:
- rate next to veterinarians in believability regarding animal care in consumers' estimation
- were beat out by only CFIA, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, nutrition professors and dietitians in terms of believability related to food safety.
And there's more good news. The same study indicated that consumers want to know how their food is produced. Also interesting is that in a recent Food Demand Survey by Oklahoma State University, taste, safety, and price remain consumers' most important values when purchasing foods. So, in reality consumers' priorities really haven't changed much from say, 50 years ago, despite all the hype we see in the news.
The question is how do we connect with consumers about farming and food production most effectively?