Top Consumer Food Concerns of 2012: Drought, 'Pink Slime,' GMOs

NEW YORK — The Midwest drought [1], “pink slime” controversy [2] and genetically modified organisms [3]were the most influential food stories for consumers in 2012, according to a survey by Hunter Public Relations.

The firm’s annual Food News Study, conducted by Digital Research, Inc., polled 1,000 Americans about their perceptions on the year’s top food stories and how those news items impacted their behavior.

The Midwest drought was ranked the top story by 43% of respondents. Of those that were aware of the drought, 70% comparison shopped for the lowest prices, and 33% purchased more canned fruits and vegetables.

Read more: 2013 Food Trends [4]

Stories about so-called “pink slime,” a popular term for what the industry calls lean, finely textured beef, affected consumer purchases of proteins: 34% bought or consumed less ground beef, while 53% purchased more chicken, 31% opted for more fish and 27% bought more seafood.

Although only 28% of survey respondents were aware of the GMO story, over three-quarters of those reported checking food labels for GMOs and 54% did research to learn more about GMOs. 

Other top food news stories cited in the survey included healthier lunches, omega-3s, First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, Chik-Fil-A’s chief operating officer’s statements on same-sex marriage, McDonald’s calorie labeling, the New York soda ban and the use of social media around food. 

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