THEY say talk is cheap, and economists are well aware that consumer survey data and actual purchasing decisions are two distinctly different things. While consumer preference surveys continue to show that shoppers are keenly aware of key food issues such as genetically modified ingredients, price remains the most important driver of their food buying choices.
In the August edition of Oklahoma State University's monthly Food Demand Survey (FooDS), economist Jayson Lusk found that consumers again cited price as their primary concern.
"Consumer values remained similar to those in past months, with an increase in perceived importance of price and nutrition, which remained top values, along with taste and safety," Lusk reported. "As in previous months, consumers reported that their main challenge faced this month was finding affordable foods to fit within their budget."
While consumers listed "avoiding certain nutrients or ingredients" and "avoiding pesticides, added hormones and antibiotics" among their top concerns, both factors were less of an issue in August than in July, falling in importance by 7.13% and 2.66%, respectively.
By contrast, "finding affordable food" increased in importance by 0.64%, while "finding convenient alternatives" and "losing weight" rose in importance from last month by 4.06% and 3.22%, respectively.
Lusk said of all the food values listed in FooDS, consumers ranked finding time to cook at home and finding food their children will eat last, consistent with previous months' findings.
Another issue tracked by the FooDS project is consumers’ willingness to pay for a variety of products at the retail meat case. The August edition found that consumers were willing to pay slightly more for steaks and chops last month, and slightly less for chicken breasts and ground beef.
Listen to economist Jayson Lusk discuss the August FooDS report in the Feedstuffs In Focus podcast.