Increasingly, modified foods are appearing in North American supermarkets and restaurants. As of last year, 47% of the soybeans and 37% of the corn grown in the U.S. were planted using genetically-engineered seeds. Potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts and numerous other crops are also being modified using genetic engineering. As a result, the vast majority of all processed foods in the U.S., including breads, baby food, ice cream, soft drinks, snack chips, and salad and cooking oils contain some form of genetically modified organism (GMO). “Fresh” foods — including produce, meat, fish and poultry — are similarly impacted by other modification processes and products such as the use of pesticides, irradiation, antibiotics, and preservatives.

On this continent, consumer awareness and perceptions toward modified foods are evolving. But in Europe, where consumers are highly skeptical and concerned, these products and processes face major issues regarding consumer acceptance. Many in the food industry here are concerned that a similar wave of negative sentiment is beginning to cross the Atlantic, although currently there is very little information available to confirm or deny this.

Recognizing that emerging consumer opinions toward modified food technologies and products will have a significant impact on food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers and retailers, Technomic, Inc. has announced plans to launch a major study on the topic. This all-encompassing study will address processes, additives and products, including antibiotics, genetically modified/bioengineered foods, irradiation, nutrient-added foods, pesticides, preservatives and ultraviolet pasteurization. Through quantitative and qualitative research, Technomic will provide a thorough analysis of many key issues, including identification of consumers’ true “hot buttons” and their least pressing concerns, the extent to which they are informed on various processes and products, and their perceived outlook for each modified food technology.

Any company or trade association involved in the food industry is invited to sponsor the research and share in its findings. To learn more about the “Modified Foods: A North American Consumer Perspective” study, including its complete scope, objectives, key issues, methodology and sponsorship costs, please contact Bob Goldin or Joe Pawlak at Technomic, Inc., 312-876-0004.

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