The FMI Foundation, in partnership with the American Seed Trade Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Farm Foundation, has released a consumer research study measuring the market potential for gene-edited products.
The nationwide survey of 5,000 U.S. shoppers examined consumer beliefs, awareness and understanding of gene editing in food and agriculture, and their willingness to pay for gene-edited foods as it pertains to fresh and processed vegetables and meat. Respondents completed simulated purchasing scenarios and chose among products depicted to be organic, non-GMO, bioengineered, conventional or gene-edited.
“Gene editing, as a plant- and animal-breeding technique, is a relatively new food technology, so we believed it was important to establish a baseline for consumer understanding and how that level of understanding impacts purchasing decisions,” said Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based FMI – the Food Industry Association. “We know from experience that new technologies can initially cause consumer confusion, so it is our hope that these research results serve as a path forward for the food and agriculture industries to collaborate and facilitate a better understanding and a common language around gene-edited products.”
Some of the key takeaways from the research include:
- More than half of consumers have never heard of gene editing.
- Despite limited awareness of gene editing, most consumers still value having the option to buy gene-edited foods.
- Consumers are more willing to purchase gene-edited foods when they know the specific benefits to the consumer, the environment and animal health.
- When consumers are informed of the benefits of gene editing, market potential for gene-edited products exceeds 15%.
The FMI Foundation spearheaded the research as part of its Unified Voice Protocol (UVP) initiative, which is designed to bring together key stakeholders on emerging issues affecting consumer trust. This is the second pilot project under the UVP.