What do consumers really think about food ingredients and technologies?
By Elaine WATSON
- Last updated on
Consumers are faced with a barrage of information from the media, social networks, blogs and other sources about 'hot button' food issues, from GMOs and food dyes to nanotechnology, said Lindsey Loving from the International Food Information Council (IFIC).
But while it is important for manufacturers to keep on top of what is trending on social networks, traditional surveys can often give a more representative view of what the average consumer thinks about these issues, she said.
For example, nationally representative IFIC surveys of US adults show that unprompted, consumers are not as worried about 'food chemicals' or GMOs as some commentators claim, said Loving.
Negative perceptions about certain ingredients are also reinforced by the food industry itself, with consumers often citing on-pack claims such as 'no HFCS' or 'no nitrates' as evidence that something must be wrong with these ingredients, she said.
"These labels are raising awareness of an issue that many consumers might not actually be thinking about."
As for nanotechnology, research suggests that consumers are reasonably open-minded about it at the moment provided there is a clear consumer benefit, she said.
Typically, when it comes to new technologies, consumers will ask, why are you doing this, who will benefit, and is it worth it, she said.