The proportion of shoppers shunning genetically modified foods has tripled over the past decade, according to The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash. Forty-six per cent of consumers surveyed last year said they actively avoid bioengineered ingredients, which compared with 15% of consumers surveyed in 2007.
Heightened concerns over bioengineered foods has translated to continued strong demand for Non-GMO Project verified products. The Non-GMO Project, Bellingham, Wash., has verified an estimated 60,000 products owned by more than 5,000 brands since 2010, when the now-ubiquitous butterfly logo began appearing on retail shelves.
“Growth has been extreme and consistent,” said Hans Eisenbeis, director of marketing and communications for the Non-GMO Project. “In terms of the verification program, we continue to grow 15% to 20% every year. In terms of consumer demand, we’re seeing 9% growth, considerably more growth than most other attributes, including organic ….
While most consumers are aware of genetically modified organisms — 97%, according to The Hartman Group — comprehension generally remains low.
“The depth of the average consumer’s understanding on non-G.M.O. and organic is pretty superficial,” Mr. Eisenbeis said. “We know that with both non-G.M.O. and even more so with organic, the most common Googled search term is ‘definition.’ ‘What’s the definition of G.M.O.?’ ‘What’s the definition of organic?’
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