Food Demand Survey (FooDS) - October 2014

The October edition of the Food Demand Survey is now out (prior releases and other details can be found here).

Relative to last month, there were small declines in willingness-to-pay (WTP) for most meat products except pork chops, which increase 8%.

While consumers continue to expect higher meat prices, inflationary expectations are less than last month, though higher than a year ago. Planned buying for all meat products rose in October relative to September, with the largest uptick in planned purchases for chicken.

There was more change in the measured "consumer values" this month compared to prior months.  There was a slight decrease in perceived importance of price, nutrition, animal 
welfare and origin, and a slight increase in perceived importance of safety, appearance, and naturalness. 

Two new ad hoc questions were added this month.  

The first question asked: “Which of the following is true of the last package of bacon you purchased? (check all that apply)” .  Over 44% of participants stated the label on the package of bacon purchased contained “none of the above”.  About 9% said they bought organic bacon; 13% said they bought “hormone free” bacon.  

These statistics likely paint an overly optimistic picture in terms of the market share of organic and no added hormones/antibiotics.  First, added growth hormones are not allowed in pork production.  Second, our analysis of recent scanner data spanning a representative sample of grocery stores in the US puts the dollar market shares of organic, “antibiotic free”, and “natural” bacon at only 2.6%, 1.9%, and 0.9%, respectively.  In general, the results speak to the propensity for people to give socially desirable answers on certain types of survey questions such as this.

Second, we asked about "Meatless Monday."  “Meatless Monday” is an international campaign that encourages consumers to refrain from eating meat one day a week for the purported purpose of improving health and the environment.  Various media outlets have made claims about the growing popularity of the movement, but firm statistics on the matter are sparse.  Thus, we asked the question: “Which of the following best describes your knowledge and involvement with ’Meatless Monday’?”   Respondents could pick one (and only one) of four answers.  The majority (51.6%) of consumers have never heard of “Meatless Monday”.  Over 80% (51.6%+31%=82.6%) have never participated in “Meatless Monday.”  Only 8.4% of participants stated they regularly participate in “Meatless Monday”.  In a separate question, about 4.7% of consumers indicated that they were vegetarian or vegan, so that leaves only (8.4%-4.7%)=3.7% of the population who regularly participants in Meatless Monday who aren’t already vegetarian or vegan.  

Addendum:  I had a reader question whether it makes sense to subtract the % vegetarian/vegan from the regular participants of meatless Monday.  In particular, someone can be a vegetarian, eat meatless on Monday, and still not identify as not participating (they might not have heard about the campaign or don't care about the campaign per se).