CHICAGO — Products labeled as non-G.M.O. are increasing in use among millennials — and among baby boomers, people in Generation X and pretty much all age groups in the United States, according to data from the Natural Marketing Institute.
Data from the N.M.I. shows use of food labeled as non-G.M.O. rose to 59% of the general U.S. population in 2014, which was up from 53% in 2013 and 37% in 2012. Among millennials, the percentage rose to 72% in 2014 from 61% in 2013 and 45% in 2012. For Generation X, the percentage slipped to 58% in 2014 from 60% in 2013, but it was up from 41% in 2012. For baby boomers, the percentages were 49% in 2014, 47% in 2013 and 29% in 2012. For the “mature” generation, the percentages were 44% in 2014, 39% in 2013 and 28% in 2012.
|Steve French, managing partner for the N.M.I.|
“It increases over time regardless of what generation you are in,” said Steve French, managing partner for the N.M.I., in a July 13 presentation at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition in Chicago.
G.M.O.-free product launches in the United States rose to 1,992 in 2014 from 1,352 in 2013 and 551 in 2012, according to the N.M.I., Harleysville, Pa.
“It’s basically the fear of the unknown,” Mr. French said. “Even though the F.D.A. says it’s safe, even though there are all kinds of literature out there that says there are no issues with G.M.O. products, consumers just inherently don’t believe that.”
He said the level of concern over bioengineered/genetically modified products has migrated from the perimeter of the store, or in such product categories as dairy, bakery, eggs and meat, into dry grocery in the center of the store.
“There’s a lot of activity in the perimeter, and it has grown from the side walls to the middle,” Mr. French said.
He said the N.M.I. asked consumers that if they found out a product they normally buy contained bioengineered ingredients, would they be less likely to buy it. Fifty-five per cent said yes.
An audience member asked if the N.M.I. considered whether higher prices for non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O. products might sway such consumers’ minds. Mr. French said a certain portion of the population, maybe 2 in 10 adults or 3 in 10 adults, said they would pay more for “clean label” products. He said he considers non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O. as part of the “clean label” trend.
Another audience member asked Mr. French if the non-G.M.O. issue was more of an emotional one than a science issue for consumers and also if the trend will have lasting power. Mr. French said it was more emotion than rationality, but he thinks non-G.M.O. products are here to stay.“The whole issue of G.M.O.s has been around for decades,” he said. “It’s not something that’s going away. It’s part of this part of this larger movement of clean label and transparency.”