Consumers watch food trends, adjust shopping habits in 2012

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A survey shows many issues affecting cattle producers also had an impact on consumers this year and their purchases changed accordingly.

The survey by Hunter Public Relations of the most influential food stories of the year revealed the drought, “pink slime” and genetically modified foods were high on consumers’ radars. Supermarket News reports the survey polled 1,000 Americans about the top stories and how their shopping habits changed.

The leading story was this summer’s drought, which 43% of those surveyed ranked as the top story. Lean, finely textured beef, a product the media often called “pink slime,” and genetically modified foods were also at the top of the list.

Most consumers (70 percent) said the drought forced them to seek out the lowest prices while 33 percent selected canned fruits and vegetables instead of their fresh counterparts.

The “pink slime” media scare earlier this year clearly had an impact on consumer spending habits. The poll found 34 percent bought or consumed less ground beef and many selected alternative proteins. While 53 percent purchased more chicken, 31 percent selected more fish and 27 percent replaced some beef purchases with seafood. LFTB was widely covered by ABC news and the product’s manufacturer, Beef Products Inc. is seeking $1.2 billion in damages for statements it’s calling “false and misleading and defamatory.”

Supermarket News reports only 28 percent of those surveyed were aware of GMO foods this year, but of those who were aware, more than 75 percent checked food labels for GM ingredients and 54 percent did their own research about genetically modified foods.

Other news stories consumers followed in 2012 included the statements made by Chik-Fil-A’s chief operating officer on same-sex marriage, Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, healthier lunches and the New York soda ban. McDonald’s calorie labeling and social media coverage of what we eat also made the list.



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