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Research shows consumers understand factors driving costs

grocery store aisle produce meat shopper consumer
U.S. government, COVID-related supply chain issues mostly blamed.

When food prices rise, biofuel critics have traditionally seen it as an opportunity to attack biofuels, regardless of the facts on the ground.

New consumer research by Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Paulsen shows that this year the public understands food prices are far more complex than has previously been asserted.

Paulsen surveyed 1,026 consumers across the U.S. last summer to get a sense of what consumers think about food prices and who they blame when they rise.

According to the survey, consumers blame the U.S. Government (36.9%), COVID-related supply chain issues (21.6%), the Russia-Ukraine conflict (10.6%) and transportation costs (9.6%) for increased food prices, whereas farmers and ranchers (1.7%) ethanol and biofuels (0.4%) and oil companies (3.9%) received minimal attention.

“Two years ago, many of these factors were not even on consumer’s radar,” said Mark Smither, chief strategy officer for Paulsen. “Consumers are now very-much aware of how the pandemic, war and supply chain issues impact food prices.”

Consumers named major food brands (43%) and grocery stores (19%) when asked, “Who profits the most from increased food prices?” In contrast, farmers and ranchers (5%) are not seen as profiting.

Paulsen also studied a number of agreement statements as part of their research that demonstrated the role agriculture can play in the discussion.

For instance, when reading the statement “Agriculture is critical to the economic, social and political stability of our country. That’s why a strong agriculture industry is key to our national security,” consumers overwhelmingly agreed (72% net agreement). Only 21% of the respondents were neutral on this point.

Smither says there are a few key takeaways from the research, including:

  • Consumers are now aware that external factors have a greater impact on food prices.
  • Any discussion about food and biofuels should include the farmer’s voice.
  • Agriculture must communicate why biofuels belong in the nation’s energy portfolio.
  • National security and food security are important issues, and the public already understands the connection to agriculture and biofuels.
TAGS: Business
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