More people shop for 'non-GMO' than 'organic'

More people shop for 'non-GMO' than 'organic'

A growing number of consumers fear GMOs, even though they're still confused about what they are. Now's the time to shape the GMO story line for shoppers, according to The Hartman Group.

More people seek “non-GMO” on food labels than “organic,” even though nearly a quarter of people admit confusion about what GMOs actually are, according to The Hartbeat blog, the newsletter of the Hartman Group.

Nineteen percent of shoppers seek foods labeled non-GMO, while 16 percent hunt for the organic label. The percent of consumers who deliberately avoid GMOs is even higher, and growing like a stalk of genetically modified corn. In 2007, 15 percent of shoppers avoided them. Today, 33 percent avoid them. That growth rate is faster than any other ingredient except soy isoflavones, according to the Hartman Group.

What's influencing this behavior? States' voter measures calling for labeling, Whole Foods' decision to label GMOs in the products in their stores by 2018, and, of course, Cheerios. General Mills removed GMOS from original Cheerios, and shoppers are noticing moves like that by manufacturers.

“No single GMO story line has emerged for consumers, who remain confused and hungry for information,” according to Hartbeart. “If food companies do not start speaking more openly about GMOs, they could lose their place in the conversation altogether. The power of social media, in particular, could quickly overwhelm any message that food companies want to convey once information or misinformation start taking hold.”

A recently formed ag organization plans to launch a pro-GMO education campaign.

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