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CHICAGO -- Consumers are concerned about genetically-modified (GMO) foods, but a majority are not willing to pay more for products without potentially harmful ingredients, according to a study released by The NPD Group.
The survey, entitled "Gauging GMO Awareness and Impact," found that although more than half of shoppers express some level of concern about GMOs, only 11 percent of shoppers are willing to pay more for non-GMO foods.
The NPD Group cites two main reasons for this disparity. First is that many primary shoppers are unclear how to describe GMOs, which may be a factor in their decision not to pay more for non-GMO foods. In addition, consumers are unclear regarding the prevalence of GMO vs. non-GMO foods at stores.
One group that is willing to pay more for GMOs is specialty store shoppers. Half of people who primarily shop at specialty stores are willing to pay more for non-GMO products, according to The NPD Group.
"Since more consumers over the last few years have been expressing concerns about GMOs, it’s time to have a dialog with shoppers about what they are and what roles they play in the food chain," said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. "Manufacturers and retailers can take an active role in this conversation by helping to educate consumers about GMOs, and learning which food and beverage categories face scrutiny among consumers when they are trying to determine if the product contains GMOs. Marketers who wish to get messages out about their products as they relate to GMOs should engage both traditional and social media for effective communication avenues."
GMOs are created when a gene from one species is transferred to another, creating something that would not normally be found in nature. Some scientists are worried that the genetically-altered foods, once consumed, may pass on mutant genes to bacterium in the digestive system. How these new strains of bacteria may affect the body is unknown.
Chicago-based The NPD Group provides global information and advisory services.