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Playing Keep Away From GMOs

Playing Keep Away From GMOs

Consumers these days are playing keep away. They’re working hard to avoid gluten and artificial sweeteners. They don’t want antibiotics and hormones in their meats. And, given their druthers, they’d avoid genetically modified ingredients too.

The problem is, keeping away from GMOs (genetically modified organisms) is a bit like playing dodgeball, blindfolded. Unlike the European Union, China, and nearly 50 countries worldwide, the U.S. doesn’t require labeling of GMO foods.

That poses a problem for consumers and an opportunity for retailers.  According to our latest MamboTrack survey, about 56% of natural product consumers plan to increase their focus on non-GMO foods this year. And they’d like it if buying non-GMO could get a little easier. 

We found that 85% of non-GMO focused shoppers want their products to be certified and labeled (Interestingly, our figure falls short of an ABC News Poll which showed 93% of all Americans wanted GMO labeling). But since consumers can’t get the U.S. government to require it, they’re asking non-GMO manufactures to step up and label themselves. What’s more, they’d like it if retailers would help out too.

In our survey of 1,000 natural product consumers, two in three (67%) wished their favorite retail stores provided more information about non-GMO such as signage, special sections, and advertising features.

Retailer Resources.  A few organizations are trying to help retailers do just that. The Non-GMO Project offers a “Supporting Retailers” program which provides signage, shelf-talkers, monthly emails regarding new non-GMO verified products, and other support materials. The Institute for Responsible Technology provides a Retailer Toolkit and also offers point-of-sale educational materials.  Meanwhile, the Just Label It campaign provides a place to publically register your support for GMO labeling legislation.

An App For That.  And if you don't want to take sides, be aware your customers are taking matters into their own hands. Of our 1,000 survey participants, about four in 10 (399) use a phone or mobile device to go online. Those tech-savvy shoppers are using their devices to look up product information and sales (85%), to access apps or guides for product purchase decisions (52%), and for scanning OCR product codes on shelves (34%). 

Consumers have a number of non-GMO “food finder” apps available to them including True Food and ShopNoGMO. You may find these helpful yourself as you plan your own signage and education efforts.

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