Less than 25% of U.S. adults strongly trust information about where their food is grown and how it is produced, despite a constant deluge of data, according to a new survey from the University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS).
For Generation Z, just 17% of those polled had a high degree of trust in the information they receive about the source of their food, the poll found. The CFANS Insights survey of 1,022 adults was conducted in January 2022. Only 27% of survey respondents reported a “very favorable” impression of agriculture and food production in the United States.
"Today’s consumers are bombarded daily from all directions with messages about what they should or shouldn’t eat and why they should embrace one food but eschew another,” said Frances Homans, professor and head of the Department of Applied Economics and Department of Agricultural Education, Communication and Marketing (AECM). “But despite this deluge of data, we still see a disconnect in their understanding of what actually happens between farm and fork.”
The CFANS survey showed that younger generations were nearly twice as likely to want to know where their food came from than baby boomers (almost 25% of Gen Z and millennials said it was extremely important, compared to 13% of boomers).
And Gen Z and millennials are two and a half times (38%) more likely than baby boomers (15%) to pay more for sustainable and responsibly sourced food that ultimately benefits the environment.
“It’s clear that our next generation of consumers is invested in our food system and in our environment,” said Homans. “They’re passionate about these topics, and we believe there’s an urgent need to create understanding about our food systems and supply chain while at the same time investing in science-based solutions and dynamic partnerships to feed a growing population and sustain our planet.”
Job Ubbink, professor and head of the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, said people are increasingly signaling that they want to eat things that are not only good for them as an individual, but that contribute to a sustainable food system and equitable society. "Costs, however, are often a hurdle, especially these days with mounting inflation," Ubbink said.
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