Some brands have been making headlines lately for proactive steps in removing or reducing ingredients where shoppers exhibit increasing concern. (See our Brand Honor Roll on the homepage of Supermarketguru.com for specific actions we applaud.) Some examples, Panera has vowed to remove artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives from its food by 2016, and Kraft has taken steps to remove artificial colors from their iconic Macaroni & Cheese and remove additives from Kraft Singles. These are bold moves and indicative of the growing clean food movement. However, how concerned are shoppers really? And are these bold moves be more a reaction to lobbyists and highly publicized bloggers? Are consumers' concerns equal?
SupermarketGuru conducted a nationwide survey to find out which ingredient shoppers feel is currently most needed to be addressed by the food industry. (Note: the question did not ask opinions on whether or not these ingredients need be removed.)
The number one answer (21%) was GMOs, suggesting that shoppers feel this highly debated issue is in need of resolution. However, there are those passionate about labeling GMOs as well as those passionate about the benefits of GMOs and reducing fear of this technology.
The GMO confusion is far from over, and what this survey does not measure is the debate's emotionality index. In order to truly measure how consumers feel about GMOs we need to understand to what degree they can separate the science based facts from their emotions about the topic.
Coming in second, 17% of shoppers would like to see antibiotics addressed. Again, there are two sides to this debate, those who think antibiotics in livestock are hazardous to our health and those that feel antibiotics make our food supply safer and healthier.
In third and fourth place, both at 12%, shoppers are interested in seeing action taken with regards to Sugar and Hight Fructose Corn Syrup. Lately sugar has been a hot topic in the media, with health advocates pleading with shoppers and the food industry to reduce intake. However, there are still many shoppers who want that choice left up to them and not the government.
Sodium, Artificial colors, and Trans Fat each received six percent of the votes, and five percent said BPA was their top concern. Under these items came Allergens (4%), Artificial Flavors (4%), and Calories (3%), Saturated Fat (2.5%).
Coming in last place was Gluten (2%), which may seem surprising because of the recent growth of the Gluten-Free industry. Perhaps, shoppers may feel that need has been effectively served, and now other ingredients should take priority.