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The survey compares how consumers and nutritionists rate healthy foods

The survey compares how consumers and nutritionists rate healthy foods

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. The average consumer seems to think about nutrition in a similar way to experts, according to Consumer Food Insights.

The report, based on the survey from Purdue University’s Center for Food Demand and Sustainability Analysis, assesses food spending, consumer satisfaction and values, support for agricultural and food policies, and trust in information sources.

This month’s report highlights nutrition, which shows certain dietary changes people believe will further improve overall health, and compares these findings to another academic survey that asked the same set of questions to researchers’ experts.

“Because people are often exposed to conflicting messages about nutrition, these results seem encouraging,” said Jason Lask, president and distinguished professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University, who leads the center. “For example, one week, you might break the news that a certain food will extend your life, and then the next week, you’ll hear that it will shorten your life.”

However, it seems that most people tend to underestimate the good and the bad.

Eating more fruits and vegetables is almost certainly a good thing, but more than 30% of respondents were unwilling to choose this answer. Likewise, it would be a bad thing for most Americans to eat more sugar, but more than 40% of respondents did not realize this fact,” Laske said.

Purdue experts conducted and evaluated the survey of 1,200 consumers across the United States

Additional key findings include:

  • Consumer perceptions of current food inflation closely track gas prices.
  • The report’s measure of national food insecurity is at its lowest in 2022 so far.
  • Families with young children and single parents face the highest rates of food insecurity.
  • Consumers expect to pay higher prices for a turkey on Thanksgiving than in 2021.
  • Americans largely believe that eating more fruits and vegetables, more proteins and more home-cooked items will improve the health and life expectancy of the US population.

This month’s report also indicates that consumers are reducing their discretionary spending on food as prices continue to rise.

“The decline in food away from home spending, along with consistent food in home spending, is a logical set of behaviors for consumers who have to figure out how to balance their budgets,” Lusk said. “However, we see no signs of severe suffering, as evidenced by the encouraging rate of food insecurity.”

food security

Lask found that the correlation between consumers’ estimates of food inflation compared to gas prices from January to September 2022 (Fig. 9) is particularly compelling.

“I’ve noticed that gas prices and our food inflation expectations gauge are up this month after both have been declining for several months,” he said. This reinforces the conventional wisdom that consumers often use gas prices as one of the most powerful measures to determine how they feel about the economy.

Across many 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, the center’s food and agricultural survey scientist and co-author of the report. Although he declined to speculate, he noted that having children at home is a unique stage in life.

“This is another way in which parents are separated,” Polzin said.

He further noted that the section on food security (Figures 13-15) highlights households most at risk if the country faces new economic shocks. This month’s report shows that single parents are the most likely to be food insecure (32%) and to participate in a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (31%). These rates are more than double the rates for families without children.

“The vulnerability of single parents is entrenched,” Bolzin said.

Lusk also discusses the report on his blog.

The Center for Analysis of Food Demand and Sustainability is part of Purdue’s next moves in agriculture and food systems and uses innovative data analysis shared through easy-to-use platforms to improve the diet. In addition to the Consumer Food Insights report, the center offers a range of online dashboards.

source: Jason Lusk, jlusk@purdue.edu

Media contact: Erin Robinson, erobin@purdue.edu

Agricultural Communications: 765-494-8415;

Maureen Manier, Head of Department, mmanier@purdue.edu

Agriculture News Page


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