"Non-GMO is a trend, not a fad"

By Ken Roseboro
Published: August 28, 2014
Category: Non-GMO Market News

Non-gmo sunflowers for sunflower oil and lecithin

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A new report finds that consumer awareness and concern about genetically modified foods in the United States is increasing while usage of non-GMO food products is growing rapidly.

The report, GMOs: What do US consumers really think of GMOs? was published by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI).

Growing awareness and concern about GMOs

While many surveys have found that majorities of consumers are not aware of GM foods and GMOs, NMI’s survey found the opposite.

There is growing awareness and concern about genetically modified organisms among consumers,” said Maryellen Molyneaux, president of NMI.

The report found that consumer awareness of the term “genetically modified organisms” increased from 42 percent in 2012 to 54 percent in 2013 while awareness of the term “genetically modified food” increased from 61 percent in 2012 to 69 percent in 2013.

When ‘genetic’ is connected to food, it increases fear (in consumers),” Molyneaux said.

The NMI survey also found increasing health concerns with GMOs: 61 percent of respondents said that GMOs impact their personal health, an increase of 10 percent over the previous year.

Globally, the report found that significant segments of the population in Brazil, China, Russia, Germany, South Africa, and India expressed concerns about GM foods.

New GMO-free product launches in US grew by 145 percent

The NMI report found that the number of new “GMO-free” or non-GMO products entering the markets in Europe and the US increased dramatically. In Europe, the number of new GMO-free products increased by 30 percent—from 2860 to 3699—from 2012 to 2013, while in the US the number of new GMO-free products increased from 551 in 2012 to 1350 in 2013, a growth rate of 145 percent.

The report also found that about 52 percent of Americans used non-GMO products in 2013, an increase of 16 percent from 2012.

According to Steve French, NMI managing partner, the rapid growth of the GMO-free/non-GMO category is not a fad.

I definitely think it is a trend,” he said. “It is clear that concerns and awareness (about GMOs) are up and usage (of non-GMO) is up.”

French said that concerns over GMOs are part of a larger trend toward greater food transparency.

Consumers are becoming more skeptical. They are saying ‘I want to know what’s in my stuff,’” he said noting the demand for transparency extends beyond food to products such as cellphones and household cleaners.

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