It’s been a rough year for the food industry, and the 2016 election has helped push that to the forefront of people’s minds.
But while we’re still in the early days of the Trump administration, a new survey from Consumer Reports finds that consumers are willing to buy more of the same from many of the major food chains, and some are willing even to buy less.
The consumer report from the National Consumer Law Center, released Wednesday, found that more than 70% of Americans think they’d be willing to pay more for the same food, and that nearly half would like to buy a higher quality product.
The findings come as the Trump Administration has announced that the federal government will be scrapping the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) food safety guidelines, a move that could make it more difficult for businesses to comply with the new regulations.
The administration is expected to issue a new set of guidelines in the coming weeks.
While the FDA has yet to announce how the rules will be implemented, consumer advocates and other stakeholders have long advocated for a more stringent, more uniform approach.
That’s why Consumer Reports commissioned an independent panel of experts to analyze how Americans are willing and able to pay for different foods, and found that the answers are mixed.
While many people would be willing pay more to buy better food, they would also want to pay less for less.
Consumers surveyed were asked to rank their preference for different types of food on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 indicating that they’d pay more money to eat better, while one in 10 said they’d buy less, and 10% said they wouldn’t pay at all.
“Our goal was to look at people’s willingness to pay different prices for different food, to see if there’s any consistency between the responses, to understand what consumers really want,” Consumer Reports Executive Director Nancy Schulz said in a statement.
“While we believe that there is some common ground in our findings, consumers are more likely to say they’re willing to spend more if they can, and they’re more likely if they know they can afford it.”
The findings suggest that some Americans are more willing to eat less, as well, when it comes to buying cheaper food.
In fact, just 13% of respondents said they would pay more if it was easier to order food online, compared to 28% who said they were willing to save money on gas and 9% who would say they wouldn’y pay more.
In other words, a higher percentage of Americans would be able to eat at a lower price if they knew they could buy the same quality at home.
That may not be a good thing, as more than half of Americans said they could only afford to buy the food they want at home, while nearly half said they couldn’t afford it at all, the survey found.
Consumer Reports says its data is based on telephone interviews with more than 800 Americans, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
Consumers should be wary of food companies, though, as the survey does not include any food that has been genetically modified, or any foods that have been grown in containers that have undergone refrigeration.
The National Restaurant Association, which represents the country’s largest restaurant chains, said in its statement that it was pleased to see that consumer sentiment was changing.
“We’re pleased that consumers feel they are more empowered to make purchasing decisions and are willing, even more, to pay a premium for quality food,” the association said.
“With the new administration and a new Congress focused on creating jobs, consumers and businesses alike should be able make more informed choices about their food.”
The National Consumer Commission on Consumer Protection, which has been a key watchdog for the industry, has called for stricter regulations and better oversight of the food supply in the wake of the election, with the hope that the Food Safety Modernization Act will prevent foodborne illness outbreaks.
Consumers have also expressed concern over the rise in animal testing and over the fact that some ingredients are now labeled “100% vegan.”
While the consumer commission has been working on the issue for years, it said that a lot of work still needs to be done to get consumers on board with that change.
Consumer advocates and consumer groups have said that they are already seeing changes in consumer attitudes, with more people asking for more information on the labels of foods and more consumers saying they’d rather buy products from companies that are vegan.