Currently browsing posts about: Surveys

Oct 28 2011

Surprise! Consumers don’t trust the meat industry

According to MeatingPlace, the Center for Food Integrity asked more than 2,000 respondents to rank a field of 8 possible priorities for the  meat industry.  The rankings of meat industry respondents were quite different from those of consumers.

Meat industry respondents ranked profitability as #2 and humane treatment of farm animals as #8.

In contrast, consumer respondents ranked profitability way down the list as #7 but humane treatment of farm animals as #4.

These disconnects, say industry observers, are serious and “feed an overall distrust of commercial ag operations.”  The survey report explains:

There is an inverse relationship between the perception of shared values and priorities for commercial farms. Consumers fear that commercial farms will put profit ahead of principle and therefore cut corners when it comes to other priority issues. As farms continue to change in size and scale we have to overcome that bias by  effectively demonstrating our commitment to the
values and priorities of consumers.

Maybe the message is getting out there?

Mar 16 2011

How come a private company is funding national nutrition surveys in Asia?

I was surprised to read a report in FoodNavigator.com that a private company is about to conduct an enormous—and undoubtedly very expensive—study of the nutritional status of children in Southeast Asia.

The study will collect data from more than 16,000 children aged 12 and under in four countries:

  • Dietary profiles and nutrient intake assessment, including food intake, bone density and cognition.
  • Iron status, vitamins, lipid profile and blood pressure.
  • Body composition and physical activity, including measurements on weight, height and hand grip strength.

The company is doing this in partnership with institutions in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Why would a private company embark on a project like this?  The company is FrieslandCampina, a Dutch firm specializing in dairy products:

We provide people around the world with all the good things milk has to offer, with products that play an important role in people’s nutrition and well-being.

Our product range: baby and infant food, milk-based drinks, cheese, milk, yoghurts, desserts, butter, cream, milk powder, dairy-based ingredients and fruit-based drinks.

As the company explains, “We aspire to help people move forward in life with our dairy nutrition, and are committed to helping our consumers maintain and improve their nutritional well-being with the goodness of milk.”

I’m willing to predict that these studies will show that kids in Southeast Asia would be a lot healthier if they drank more milk.   And will find reasons to dismiss concerns that lactose intolerance is the norm in Asian populations over the age of five or so.

Oct 21 2010

Toddler eating patterns: the latest survey

Nestlé, the world’s largest food company (no relation) has conducted periodic studies of infant feeding practices since 2002, no doubt to encourage sales of its Gerber products.  The surveys—FITS (Feeding Infants and Nutrition) Studies—invariably show that Gerber  baby foods would be better for babies than what they currently are fed.

The latest FITS results, says the Nestlé press release, “are startling.”

  • One-third of toddlers and 50% of preschoolers eat fast food at least once a week.
  • On-quarter of families eat dinner together four or fewer nights each week.
  • Half of 2-year-olds and 60% of 3-year-olds watch more than one hour of television each day.
  • 17% of 2-year-olds and 24% of 3-year-olds watch more than two hours of TV each day.
  • 25% of older infants, toddlers and preschoolers do not eat even one serving of fruit on a given day, and 30% do not eat a single serving of vegetables.
  • French fries are still the most popular vegetable among toddlers and preschoolers.
  • 71% of toddlers and 84% of preschoolers consume more sodium than recommended on a given day.

If these trends are real, could food marketing have anything to do with them?  Nestlé/Gerbers does not speculate.

The survey does report some good news:

  • “Only” 17% of infants age 6-8 months consumed a dessert or sweetened beverage on a given day compared to 36% in 2002.
  • “Only” 14% of infants age 12-14 months drank a sweetened beverage on a given day, down from 29% in 2002.
  • 33% of mothers are breastfeeding 9-11 month old children compared to 21% in 2002

The breastfeeding trend, if true, is good news indeed.  Evidently, the word is also getting out on sweetened beverages.  Progress?  Yes, but plenty more to do.

May 4 2010

The latest survey: consumers want healthy foods!

Ordinarily, I don’t pay much attention to consumer surveys because the results are so dependent on the way the questions are asked and who gets polled.  But this one, conducted by StrategicOne and sent to me by Edelman Public Relations, is relatively uncomplicated.

It asks three questions (top responses, order of priority):

Which ONE of the following best describes the way in which you primarily think about food in your life? Health 23%, connection 18%, fuel 15%, love 12%,  pride 11%.

How important is it to you that each of the following food sources have specific initiatives focused on health, wellness and nutrition for people consuming their products? Supermarkets 91%, food producers 90%, packaged food companies 83%, casual dining restaurants 81%, fast food 68%.

How important is it to you that a food company have each of the following types of initiatives? Healthy foods that taste great 94%, health foods 92%, nutrition information 92%, community social responsibility 89%, front-of-package nutrition information 88%, fewer ingredients 75%.

People may not agree about they way they think about food, but it sounds like the respondents to this survey want the foods offered in supermarkets and restaurants to just take care of the health issues for them.  Good idea.

Aug 5 2009

What We Eat in America: Latest Info

I’ve long argued that finding out what people eat is the most intellectually challenging aspect of nutrition research.  To put it bluntly, everybody lies. OK.  We don’t lie.  We just can’t remember or estimate portion sizes accurately.  For years, government agencies have gone to great trouble and done the best they can to get some reasonable idea of what Americans actually eat.  They report the results as “What We Eat in America.”  The data may not be perfect (they almost certainly underestimate actual intake), but they are the best we have and always of great interest.

I always like to know what is going on with calories.  The USDA’s most recent data are from 2005-2006.  These show that women on average consume 1785 calories a day, men 2638, and together 2157.  These figures are based on intake reported for 24 hours and almost certainly underestimate real calorie intake by one-third or more.  Compare these figures to calorie production, which is now 4000 per capita per day! (See Table 1).   The truth undoubtedly lies somewhere in between and all we can do is make good guesses.

USDA files its dietary intake reports under Products & Services.   Its latest looks at intake of four nutrients: calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and magnesium.  In comparison to dietary reference intakes (DRIs), Americans eat pretty well.  The low magnesium intake makes me wonder if the  DRI for that nutrient is too high, but I tend to be skeptical about such things.

Everything about these reports requires much careful interpretation, since every element of obtaining dietary intake information is fraught with error.   Better methods would help a lot.  If only we could figure out how to do this better.  A challenge, indeed.

Jun 29 2009

Gosh. Consumers don’t trust the food supply

I didn’t know that IBM was in the survey business but apparently it has just asked people what they think about the safety of the food supply.  Fewer than 20% of the 1,000 people who responded said (what a surpise) that they trusted food companies to make safe and healthful foods.

More than 60% said they were worried about food safety and – this one really does surprise me – 83% could name a food that was recalled in the past two years, mostly peanut butter.

IBM’s conclusion?  “These findings underscore how the rise in recalls and contamination has significantly eroded consumer confidence in food and product safety, as well as with the companies that manufacture and distribute these products.”   No kidding.

Now if Congress would only pay attention and do the right thing.

Nov 26 2008

Consumers Union: little trust in food supply

A survey by Consumers Union finds a huge majority of respondents to want more inspection of domestic and imported foods, better country-of-origin labeling, and labeling of genetically modified and cloned foods.  Me too.

Oct 17 2008

Consumer surveys are always fun

And this one is international.  Ketchum Public Relations asked about 1000 people in the U.S., the U.K, Germany, Argentina, and China what they thought about a bunch of issues about food choice.  The results are interesting, if not particularly credible.  For example, 44% say they are confused about which foods are good for them, and only 30% or so would rank profit as the highest priority if they were CEO of a global food company.  That’s the difference between consumers and people who go to business school, I guess.  Enjoy and have a sane weekend.

Page 1 of 212