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Genetically modified ingredients continue to polarise consumer opinion

17 October 2012

  • 23% of consumers always try and avoid grocery products that contain GM ingredients
  • Older consumers more likely to always try and avoid GM ingredients in grocery products

New research by consumer experts Canadean Consumer has revealed that genetically modified ingredients are the most polarising when it comes to consumer opinion.  The research was designed to examine the degree to which consumers would look to avoid perceived unhealthy ingredients when shopping for grocery products.

The results showed that 23% of consumers will always try and avoid grocery products that include genetically modified ingredients.  Further, 35% of consumers will “often” or “sometimes” try to avoid grocery products that contain genetically modified ingredients, while 37% of consumers will “never” or “rarely” look to genetically modified ingredients. This was a much greater difference of opinion than across any other ingredient surveyed.

Within the research there were some notable differences across consumer demographics.  The data show that while only 11% of 18-24 year olds and 14% of 25-34 year olds always try to avoid genetically modified ingredients, among consumers aged 55+ years the figure was 31%.

Commenting on the research findings, Ed Barham, Research Director at Canadean Consumer said:  “It appears that in the mind of some consumers genetically modified ingredients still cause concerns, despite government reassurances over the safety of these items.  With nearly a quarter of consumers looking to avoid all genetically modified ingredients and a fifth of consumers never trying to avoid genetically modified ingredients the issue clearly polarises consumer opinion.  However, it would appear that the story is deeper than that.

“With the distrust of genetically modified ingredients higher among older consumers (55 years and over) it would appear that wider concerns this age group have with regard to the impact of diet on health, for example trans fats and heart disease, are effecting the perception of genetically modified products. By focussing on the potential health benefits of genetically modified ingredients, there is a change this perception could be altered”.

 

Figure 1: Consumers who always look to avoid products that contain genetically modified ingredients (% UK respondents) 2012

Consumers who always look to avoid products that contain genetically modified ingredients (% UK respondents) 2012

Source: Canadean © Canadean

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