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Carnival Rides & The Food System

May 29, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHealthy. Price. Cost. Organic. Gluten Free. Low Fat.

So many choices. Sometimes it’s like waiting at a carnival ride for the right seat to come around again. Only unlike a carnival ride, it’s life sustaining, and there are many depending on your choices.

We in agriculture, and those in food processing, hear the loudest voices. We hear those who take the time to engage and tell us what you want. Unfortunately that doesn’t always match up. We’re trying to stop the right seat on the Tilt-a-Whirl and y’all are over at the Scrambler! How does this happen?

Be it large or small we can’t guess what you will buy with accuracy, especially when you don’t always know. The alternative of having many choices in case someone wants it doesn’t always work either, leading to food waste and other issues.

Recently I’ve been bombarded with several articles at once that seem to leave more questions than it answers. One talked about consumers wanting healthy food, but taste and price still matter.

Taste and price remain important, with 90 percent of consumers naming the former and 73 percent the latter as among the top factors influencing their food choices in the most recent survey.

Then another article on gluten free noted 1 in 4 thought it’s a good idea but 11% actually take action.

Half of gluten-free consumers say they may not be willing to sacrifice taste to maintain a gluten-free diet. But the biggest reason cited for not purchasing a gluten-free product was price, according to the NPD Group report.

Price is a factor – and although I hear people in comment sections and forums say they’ll pay more, my experience is most do not, will not or (often!) cannot pay more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith increasing legislation, label laws and other issues, this is a big factor that too often gets overlooked. Food safety is a concern, and many voice concerns about the volume of recalled products. I’ll touch more on that tomorrow, but for this post it’s good to assume we all want safe food.

At what cost? Meats are going up. Produce is going up. Regulations and issues are increasing for those on the farms, food bans and when something is no longer available as a food choice will anyone remember these decisions now? I don’t think so, based on history.

What do you think? Leave a comment – what’s your food priorities? What are you actually willing to pay for, and how much are you willing to alter that amount for insuring your food choices? What if your food choices are no longer available because it was deemed to infringe on someone else’s? Keep comments civil – but let’s have a conversation. Invite friends…go!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 30, 2014 4:00 PM

    I am probably not your average consumer – I was lucky to grow up in a household that didn’t really clip coupons or worry overly much about the price of groceries. I am much the same way as an adult the way I shop – if I want steak for the grill, I buy steak. I rarely look at the price of milk – just buy a gallon because we need it. I will, however, not typically pay extra for organic or cage-free (or whatever label) eggs because I don’t see a need to. Same really goes for much of organic – it’s not in regular rotation in my shopping; however, if I see something new and interesting and it happens to be organic, I’ll try it. It’s good to have choices – but as you indicated, I do wonder sometimes if too many choices is always the best thing.

    I grew up in a family that owned a grocery store in a small town – and if I heard it once, I heard it a hundred times, people say they will pay more for something, but once they get into the grocery store, 9 times out of 10, they won’t. This was the case when my grandfather owned the grocery store decades ago and I still think it is similar today for many people.

    Always enjoy thoughtful your posts, Joan!

    • June 2, 2014 12:06 PM

      Personally I’m in between. If we have a good month, I’m more likely to buy the “we can afford it” item. When I go in with $30 that has to last 3 people 2 weeks…well that’s quite a bit tougher! I think many of us intend to change but it’s easy to stay in our comfort zone. Appreciate the comments! 🙂

  2. May 30, 2014 4:01 PM

    Oops – I meant “Always enjoy your thoughtful posts, Jan!” Sheesh! Typing too fast today. 🙂

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