PhD Candidate, University of Alberta
The food preferences of consumers have important health, economic and environmental implications. Consumers’ food choices are vary widely based on socio-demography, health and ethical consciousness, concerns about the environment and other considerations. In recent times, a segment of consumers whose purchase decisions are engaging the attention of key stakeholders in food production and marketing are millennials. This generational cohort represents a relatively young consumer category born after 1980.Several factors underscore the growing interest in the preferences of millennials. First, as an increasing proportion of this cohort enter the labor force, purchasing power has increased (In Canada, millennials make up 27% of the population and represent the largest generational cohort (37%) in the labour force. Second, previous studies have shown that millennials are consumption oriented, technologically perceptive and have higher environmental, ethical and social consciousness as compared to other generations. The main implication of these trends is that the taste and preferences of millennials are going to shape food purchases. Despite the potential impact of the preferences of millennials on current and future consumption, little has been done to understand their food choices. In this study, we examine whether preferences for dairy products in Canada by millennials are more pro-environmental as compared to other cohorts. The choice of dairy as the product of interest is ideal as the consumption of dairy related products has seen considerable shifts due to health, ethical and environmental concerns. In Canada, milk consumption decreased by 16% between 2005 and 2014. In the same period, consumption of yoghurt and butter increased by 34 and 11% respectively Also, ruminants including dairy cows have a significant carbon footprint-80% of methane from agricultural sources and 35% of anthropogenic methane emissions. By linking environmental attributes to food preferences by an important consumer segment, we make a unique contribution to the burgeoning literature on consumer preferences for environmentally friendly products. Our results also serve as a basis to assess the robustness of environmentally friendly behavior by millennials identified in other studies. Insights from this study may also shed light on future trends in the consumption of milk products in Canada.
Abstract: 1. In this review, current EU GMO regulations are subjected to a point-by point analysis to determine their suitability for agriculture in modern Europe. Our analysis concerns present GMO regulations as well as suggestions for possible new regulations for genome editing and New Breeding Techniques (for which no regulations presently exist). Firstly, the present GMO regulations stem from the early days of recombinant DNA and are not adapted to current scientific understanding on this subject. Scientific understanding of GMOs has changed and these regulations are now, not only unfit for their original purpose, but, the purpose itself is now no longer scientifically valid. Indeed, they defy scientific, economic, and even common, sense. A major EU regulatory preconception is that GM crops are basically different from their parent crops. Thus, the EU regulations are "process based" regulations that discriminate against GMOs simply because they are GMOs. However current scientific evidence shows a blending of classical crops and their GMO counterparts with no clear demarcation line between them. Canada has a "product based" approach and determines the safety of each new crop variety independently of the process used to obtain it. We advise that the EC re-writes it outdated regulations and moves towards such a product based approach. Secondly, over the last few years new genomic editing techniques (sometimes called New Breeding Techniques) have evolved. These techniques are basically mutagenesis techniques that can generate genomic diversity and have vast potential for crop improvement. They are not GMO based techniques (any more than mutagenesis is a GMO technique), since in many cases no new DNA is introduced. Thus they cannot simply be lumped together with GMOs (as many anti-GMO NGOs would prefer). The EU currently has no regulations to cover these new techniques. In this review, we make suggestions as to how these new gene edited crops may be regulated. The EU is at a turning point where the wrong decision could destroy European agricultural competitively for decades to come.
Pub.: 10 Mar '17, Pinned: 02 Jul '17
Abstract: The food supply is complicated and consumers are increasingly calling for labeling on food to be more informative. In particular, consumers are asking for the labeling of food derived from genetically modified organisms (GMO) based on health, safety, and environmental concerns. At issue is whether the labels that are sought would accurately provide the information desired. The present study examined consumer (n = 181) perceptions of health, safety and the environment for foods labeled organic, natural, fat free or low fat, GMO, or non-GMO. Findings indicated that respondents consistently believed that foods labeled GMO are less healthy, safe and environmentally-friendly compared to all other labels (ps < .05). These results suggest that labels mean something to consumers, but that a disconnect may exist between the meaning associated with the label and the scientific consensus for GMO food. These findings may provide insight for the development of labels that provide information that consumers seek.
Pub.: 01 Jul '17, Pinned: 02 Jul '17
Abstract: To identify and characterize initiatives that promote the purchase of locally-sourced foods to supply schools and the school centres carrying out the initiatives.Exploratory, descriptive study based on secondary data and key informant reports. A search of governmental and non-governmental initiatives was carried out at the autonomous community level. Government initiatives were located through school feeding programmes in the different autonomous communities, their nutritional guides and representatives of the councils for education and agriculture. Non-governmental initiatives were found through their own websites and the snowball technique. Initiatives were analysed by their geographic distribution, organizational area (government vs. non-government), number of school centres carrying out the initiatives, management style and organic food purchase. A descriptive analysis of the data was carried out.12 initiatives carried out by 318 schools (2.16% of all the schools with food service in Spain) were identified. Among these, 6 are governmental initiatives with a scope of 274 schools (1.86%), and 6 are non-governmental initiatives with a scope of 44 schools (0.30%). Most of these schools have a public management system in place (n=284). All the initiatives provide for the purchase of organic food.Local food purchase initiatives in Spain have a limited reach. However, the existence of a state directive could support and strengthen the development of such initiatives, given that school commitment is greater when initiatives are driven by the public sector.
Pub.: 24 Apr '17, Pinned: 02 Jul '17
Abstract: This study aimed to determine whether the environmental attitudes and behaviors of children attending primary schools designed or adapted for sustainability are different from those of children attending conventional schools. An NEP (Children@school) scale was developed to measure children's environmental attitudes and a GEB (Children@school) scale was developed to measure children's environmental behaviors. Data collected from children aged between 10 and 12 years were analyzed using multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). The findings indicate that children attending primary schools designed to engage them with sustainable design had significantly more pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors. Thus, it is suggested that pedagogies for environmental education should be developed that require children to directly engage when learning with sustainable design features such as solar panels, the use of recycled water, natural daylighting, gardens and outdoor classrooms.
Pub.: 05 Apr '17, Pinned: 02 Jul '17
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine food choice motives associated with various organic and conventional dietary patterns among 22,366 participants of the NutriNet-Santé study. Dietary intakes were estimated using a food frequency questionnaire. Food choice motives were assessed using a validated 63-item-questionnaire gathered into nine food choice motive dimension scores: "absence of contaminants", "avoidance for environmental reasons", "ethics and environment", "taste", "innovation", "local and traditional production", "price", "health" and "convenience". Five consumers' clusters were identified: "standard conventional food small eaters", "unhealthy conventional food big eaters", "standard organic food small eaters", "green organic food eaters" and "hedonist moderate organic food eaters". Relationships between food choice motive dimension scores and consumers' clusters were assessed using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) models adjusted for sociodemographic factors. "Green organic food eaters" had the highest mean score for the "health" dimension, while "unhealthy conventional food big eaters" obtained the lowest mean score for the "absence of contaminants" dimension. "Standard organic food small eaters", "green organic food eaters" and "hedonist moderate organic food eaters" had comparable scores for the "taste" dimension. "Unhealthy conventional food big eaters" had the highest mean score for the "price" dimension while "green organic food eaters" had the lowest mean scores for the "innovation" and "convenience" dimensions. These results provide new insights into the food choice motives of diverse consumers' profiles including "green" and "hedonist" eaters.
Pub.: 27 Jan '17, Pinned: 02 Jul '17
Abstract: Abstract College-educated millennials, motivated by a preference for vibrant, walkable neighborhoods with access to good public transportation, are helping to drive an economic resurgence in many American cities. At the same time, institutions of higher education (IHEs) are seeking to contribute to sustainable societies by encouraging students to incorporate principles of environmental responsibility into personal consumption practices. Popular writing on the urban migration of millennials—the generation born after 1982—has frequently celebrated the presumed environmental benefits of cities not designed around the automobile. Yet, little research has examined how, if at all, IHE efforts to shape student consumption practices may impact the sustainability of urban areas where many millennials are choosing to live and work. In this paper, we use survey and qualitative data on undergraduates at a large, public university to compare millennials’ commitment to different forms of sustainable consumption to their preference for particular urban forms. We find that student commitment to practicing sustainable consumption in their adult lives is weakest in an area crucial to the global ecological footprint of urban areas: how food is produced and consumed. We also find that evidence for IHE impact on student attitudes and practices related to any form of sustainable consumption is surprisingly lacking. We conclude by suggesting that IHEs have not yet realized their full potential to prepare millennials to be environmentally responsible citizens of sustainable cities, particularly where participation in food systems is concerned.AbstractCollege-educated millennials, motivated by a preference for vibrant, walkable neighborhoods with access to good public transportation, are helping to drive an economic resurgence in many American cities. At the same time, institutions of higher education (IHEs) are seeking to contribute to sustainable societies by encouraging students to incorporate principles of environmental responsibility into personal consumption practices. Popular writing on the urban migration of millennials—the generation born after 1982—has frequently celebrated the presumed environmental benefits of cities not designed around the automobile. Yet, little research has examined how, if at all, IHE efforts to shape student consumption practices may impact the sustainability of urban areas where many millennials are choosing to live and work. In this paper, we use survey and qualitative data on undergraduates at a large, public university to compare millennials’ commitment to different forms of sustainable consumption to their preference for particular urban forms. We find that student commitment to practicing sustainable consumption in their adult lives is weakest in an area crucial to the global ecological footprint of urban areas: how food is produced and consumed. We also find that evidence for IHE impact on student attitudes and practices related to any form of sustainable consumption is surprisingly lacking. We conclude by suggesting that IHEs have not yet realized their full potential to prepare millennials to be environmentally responsible citizens of sustainable cities, particularly where participation in food systems is concerned.
Pub.: 01 Sep '16, Pinned: 28 Jun '17
Abstract: Who buys a head of iceberg lettuce anymore when pre-washed, trimmed lettuce blends are readily available? It’s the same person who buys a gallon of the white stuff and a chunk of cheddar. It’s not the consumer—today’s consumer–who grew up with more than 87,000 possible Starbucks combinations to create a customized drink. Millennials and their offspring are today’s and tomorrow’s consumers, demographics with unprecedented expectations of the food supply chain. They want customization, simplicity, and transparency but at the same time demand convenience, deliciousness, and portability. According to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2015 Food and Health Survey, compared to the general U.S. population, Millennials have differing opinions on traditional eating habits, usage of resources and information for staying healthy, and even on the value of some nutrients. Understanding these views is paramount for dairy brands to thrive. According to the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association, the food retail world is changing, and the products and the players must change in tandem. Traditional food retailers are the most challenged, with data suggesting they will experience a 9% drop in market share (from 71% to 62%) over the next 10 yr as non-traditional channels like fresh formats and online retailers gain 38% of the food market. Traditional supermarkets that want to survive are responding to the changing retail channel landscape by featuring full-service restaurants, smaller formats, and Millennial-focused products and services. In 2014, e-commerce sales for consumables were $24.4 billion, an increase of 13.5% from 2013. Online purchases of foods and beverages are projected to almost quadruple between 2015 and 2020, to $49 billion, representing 4.5% of all food retail sales. When it comes to dairy, deli, and bakery, as well as prepared foods, specialty cheese, and specialty meats, the six fresh parameter departments in the traditional supermarket, consumers continue to appreciate the in-person experience. It’s no wonder that the greatest percentage of increase in store count has come from channels outside of traditional food, drug, and mass-merchandising formats, including convenience stores, warehouse clubs, and dollar stores. Stores that focus on fresh foods, in particular single-serve options and convenience, invite consumers inside. And once inside, they often buy more than they really intended. Dairy foods manufacturers must make sure they are competing in this space.
Pub.: 01 Oct '16, Pinned: 28 Jun '17
Abstract: Lamb consumption consists of the smallest percentage of red meat consumption in America. Our objective was to estimate how many Americans do not consume lamb and describe attitudes as to why not. The online survey consisted of demographic information and lamb consumption patterns and experiences. Participants were invited to complete the survey if they were within the millennial population (ages 18–34) and residing in the U.S. Participants (n = 2473) were 34.5% male, 65.5% female; 15.9% were ages 18–24, 83.2% were 25–34, and 0.9% were 35; 85.0% were Caucasian (non-Hispanic), 8.8% Latino or Hispanic, 3.0% Asian or Pacific Islander, 1.3% African American, and 1.8% other. Household income was 7.4% $24,999 or less, 17.9% $25,000–49,999, 20.8% $50,000–74,999, 19.5% $75,000–99,999, and 36.4% made $100,000 or more; 10.3% were not employed, 9.6% were employed part-time, and 80.0% were full-time. Participants reported consumption of the following protein sources either away from or at home: 92.3% chicken, 88.8% beef, 79.0% pork, 79.8% fish, 11% lamb, 92.6% eggs, and 25.8% soy-based products. 70.8% of the participants claimed to have eaten lamb before, and of these participants (n = 1719), 70.8% selected having a positive eating experience with lamb. Although 47.2% of the participants were uncertain how the lamb was prepared, braising (19.1%), grilling outside (12.5%), and panfrying (8.6%) were the most common methods of preparation. 65.1% of the participants would be willing to try lamb again, 23.2% selected maybe, and 11.6% would not be willing to try lamb again. Of the participants who had not tried lamb before (n = 716), 60.8% would be willing to try lamb. If lamb flavor were to be improved, 22.4% of the participants would definitely and 47.1% might consume more lamb. If lamb tenderness were to be improved, 23.7% of the participants would definitely and 44.8% might consume more lamb. If the eating quality of lamb were to be more consistent, 24.8% of the participants would definitely and 43.8% might consume more lamb. If lamb were to be implemented into the fast-food industry, 22.1% of the participants would definitely and only 22.8% might consume more lamb. While 72.8% of the participants selected they had never looked to buy lamb at their local grocery store, 14.4% selected lamb is hard to find and 5.1% selected finding lamb was hit or miss. Opportunities exist to increase the consumption of lamb by converting the millennial non-consumers of lamb.
Pub.: 01 Oct '16, Pinned: 28 Jun '17