Do your customers care?

Local and organic: Do your customers care?

Wondering whether to add local or organic items to your menus, and which products make the most business sense? These findings from an Ipsos Reid poll for Dietitians of Canada shed some light on what Canadians think about local and organic food, and identify their favourite products.

Local foods seen as  “healthy, fresh and safe”

Canadians appear to have a favourable assessment towards food that is produced locally. More specifically, most (96%) believe that the term “healthy” describes food found in their region or province, while most others say that the words fresh (94%), safe (93%), abundant (88%), diverse (85%) and good value (82%) also describe their local food well.

Moreover, most (86%) agree (29% strongly/57% somewhat) that they’re confident that the food they eat in Canada is safe. Eight in 10 (78%) agree (27% strongly/52% somewhat) that it is important for them to know where their food is grown.

Favourite local products

Overall, more Canadians named beef (13%) as their favourite food produced in all of Canada
than any other food. Next on the list are apples (6%), corn on the cob (5%), potatoes (4%), cheese (4%) and maple syrup (4%).

Thinking about what their favourite local food is, Canadians across the country chose different items:

·    British Columbians were most likely to indicate that fresh vegetables (unspecified) were their favourite locally grown food (11%)

·    Albertans were most likely to choose beef (20%)

·    Residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba named corn on the cob (12%) over other options

·    More Ontarians preferred apples (14%) than any other food

·    Quebecers were most likely to pick cheese (12%)

·    Atlantic Canadians were most likely to indicate that lobster (12%) was their favourite local food

Myth or fact?

Canadians appear to be confused – or at least not at all in agreement – on some truths and myths about the way certain foods are raised or produced:

• Six in 10 (59%) believe it to be true that fruits and vegetables produced closer to where they live contain more nutrients than those that have traveled from afar, while 41% think this claim is false.

• Six in 10 (56%) also believe that fresh fruits and vegetables contain more vitamins and minerals than frozen fruits and vegetables, while 44% believe this statement to be false.

• Two in three (64%) think that growth hormones are given to Canadian cows to increase their milk production, while one in three (36%) do not believe that this is the case.

• One in three (32%) are of the opinion that organic foods are more nutritious than conventionally grown foods, while the vast majority (68%) disagree with this premise.

Cost-conscious consumers

While there is strong consumer interest in eating local, restaurant owners must balance this against potentially higher costs to provide this option. According to the Ipsos Reid poll, Canadians are closely watching their food dollar.

·    To control their food bill, eight in ten (80%) Canadians are cooking at home more often. Nine in 10 (87%) agree (50% strongly/37% somewhat) that they sometimes don’t buy certain food because it costs too much.

·    Many Canadians are also checking weekly flyers for sales or using coupons (76%), going without more costly food (49%) or buying in bulk (44%)

·    About one in four Canadians are buying from the farmers’ market (27%), and growing their own garden (24%).

·    Just 4% of Canadians aren’t employing any cost-cutting tactics.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between Nov. 2-5, 2009, on behalf of Dietitians of Canada. For this survey, a national sample of 2,201 adults from Ipsos’ Canadian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/-2.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.     

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