Survey compares how consumers and nutrition experts rate healthy foods – AgriNews
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The average consumer seems to think about nutrition in a similar way to experts, according to the Consumer Food Insights Report.
The survey-based report from Purdue University’s Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability assesses food spending, consumer satisfaction and values, support for agriculture and food policies, and trust in food sources. ‘information.
This month’s report sheds light on nutrition, which shows specific dietary changes that people believe would improve overall health the most, and compares those findings to another academic survey that asked experts the same set of questions. of research.
“Given that people are often exposed to mixed messages about nutrition, these results seem encouraging,” said Jayson Lusk, director and professor emeritus of agricultural economics at Purdue, who leads the center.
“For example, one week the news might be that a certain food will prolong your life, then the next week you hear that it will shorten your life.”
However, it seems that most people tend to underestimate both the good and the bad.
“Most Americans eating more fruits and vegetables is almost certainly a good thing, but more than 30% of respondents were unwilling to choose this response. Similarly, most Americans eating more sugar would be a bad thing. thing, but more than 40% of respondents didn’t recognize that fact,” Lusk said.
Purdue experts conducted and evaluated the survey, which included 1,200 consumers across the United States.
Additional key results include:
• Consumer perceptions of current food inflation closely track gasoline prices.
• The report’s national food insecurity measure is at its lowest point in 2022 so far.
• Households with young children and single-parent families face the highest rates of food insecurity.
• Consumers expect to pay higher prices for Thanksgiving turkey compared to 2021.
• Americans generally believe that eating more fruits and vegetables, more protein and more home-cooked foods would improve the health and life expectancy of the American population.
This month’s report also suggests consumers are reducing discretionary food spending as prices continue to rise.
“The decline in out-of-home food spending, coupled with stable at-home food spending, is a logical set of behaviors for consumers to find a way to balance their budget,” Lusk said. “And yet, we do not see signs of extreme hardship, as indicated by an encouraging rate of food insecurity.”
Lusk found the link between consumer estimates of food inflation relative to gasoline prices from January to September 2022 particularly compelling.
“I noticed that gasoline prices and our measure of food inflation expectations rose this month after both falling for several months,” he said.
This reinforces the conventional wisdom that consumers often use gas prices as one of the strongest metrics to determine how they feel about the economy.
Across several topics, researchers have found that issues such as environmental and social sustainability are more important to consumers with children.
“I don’t have a good explanation for this phenomenon,” said Sam Polzin, a food and agriculture research scientist for the center and co-author of the report.
Although he declines to speculate, he noted that having children at home is a once-in-a-lifetime stage.
“It’s another way of separating parents,” Polzin said.
He further noted that the section on food security highlights which households are most at risk should the country face further economic shocks.
This month’s report shows that single parents are most likely to be food insecure and to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program. These rates are more than double those of households without children.
“The vulnerability of single parents is well established,” Polzin said.
Lusk further discusses the report in his blog at https://tinyurl.com/mrx7ysse.
The Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability is part of Purdue’s Next Moves in Agriculture and Food Systems and uses innovative data analysis shared through user-friendly platforms to improve the food system.
In addition to the Consumer Food Insights Report, the center offers a portfolio of online dashboards.