Food Policy Missing From US Presidential Debates, Despite Majority Shopper Interest


05 Oct 2016 --- At a time when Democrats and Republicans agree on few solutions to the challenges facing America, FoodMinds’ fourth “Food Temperance in America” survey found two out of three Opinion Leader Shoppers – registered voters that express their food values in the grocery store, in public forums and in their politics – support including food policy issues in the presidential debates, with 76 percent of Democrat Opinion Leader Shoppers and 50 percent of Republican Opinion Leader Shoppers thinking the presidential candidates should debate policy options around access to food, food assistance programs, food safety and education on healthy food choices. 

There was an uptick among Republican Opinion Leader Shoppers calling for the inclusion of food issues in the debates, with only 42 percent of this group favoring food policy deliberation in 2012, the last time FoodMinds conducted the survey.

While food policy approaches differ between Democrats and Republicans, there has been a significant shift since 2010 in Opinion Leader Shoppers’ thinking about who holds the primary responsibility for making the right food choices to stay healthy and avoid obesity.

Click to Enlarge“Since the FoodMinds Food Temperance Survey was first fielded in January 2010, there has been a steady shift in perceived responsibility away from the individual and toward other parts of society including food companies, government, health care and education,” said Grant Prentice, senior vice president, strategic insights, FoodMinds. “In fact, during this six-year time frame there has been a 15-point change among Opinion Leader Shoppers, with more than 50 percent of such shoppers now believing the primary responsibility for making the right food choices lies with society rather than the individual.” While Republican Opinion Leader Shoppers are more likely to place responsibility on the individual compared to Democrats, the percent of Republicans focused on individual responsibility dropped from 67 percent in 2012 to 59 percent in 2016.

The “Food Temperance in America” survey tracks opinions on food policy topics among registered voters and Opinion Leader Shoppers, a group of politically aware and socially active consumers who are registered voters and primary grocery shoppers for their households.

Not surprisingly, Democrat Opinion Leader Shoppers show much stronger approval for government intervention to limit consumption of unhealthy foods, with 71 percent approving increased intervention relative to only 34 percent of Republicans approving of increased government intervention in food choice and efforts to limit consumption of unhealthy foods.

“It is clear that Republican and Democratic Opinion Leader Shoppers hold different opinions on food policy and these voters want Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to debate pressing food policy matters during this election. Given the significant difference of opinion on best policies to adopt, it is imperative that the country engage in this debate,” said Bill Layden, founder and executive vice president, FoodMinds.

FoodMinds, a food and nutrition consulting company, keeps its finger-on-the-pulse of Opinion Leader Shoppers to help clients navigate shifts in consumer sentiment that may affect marketing potential.

Led by FoodMinds’ Strategic Insights team, the fourth “Food Temperance in America” survey was conducted using Toluna’s social voting community of more than 10 million people between September 7 and September 15, 2016. The sample of 684 Opinion Leader Shoppers was balanced on age, gender, income and region. The margin of error for Opinion Leader Shoppers is +/- 3.7 percent, Democratic Opinion Leader Shoppers is +/-5.2 percent and Republican Opinion Leader Shoppers is +/-6.8 percent.

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