Three in Ten: Feds Should Have Environmental Responsibility for Food Industry

August 27, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | CPG & FMCG | Men | Women | Youth & Gen X

Three in ten Americans (29%) say the federal government should have the most responsibility – in relation to the US food industry – for ensuring the long-term wellbeing of the environment, according to a recent Harris Poll.

However, one-quarter (25%) say the responsibility should fall on the food manufacturers themselves, followed by consumers (19%), and state and local governments (17%); just 1% say supermarkets should have the most responsibility.


By age, there are some small differences from the aggregate: Three in 10 Matures (those 62 and older) say the food manufacturers should be most responsible, while one-third (33%) of Gen Xers (those age 31-42) say the federal government should be most responsible for the well-being of the environment when considering the food industry.

Other findings of the Harris survey follow:

Awareness of own habits

  • Regarding their own purchases and habits, over two-thirds (69%) of US adults say they are conscious of the environmental impact of those purchases, while one-quarter (27%) are not conscious.
  • The level of consciousness, however, is not very strong: Over half (55%) of adults say they are somewhat conscious, but just 14% say they are very conscious of the environmental impact of their purchases and habits.
  • And there is a gender difference: Three-quarters of women (74%) say they are conscious (somewhat or very) of the impact, compared with 64% of men.


Purchasing environmental products

  • If the price is within their budget, Americans are likely to buy various products that address environmental concerns:
    • Two-thirds (66%) say they are very likely to purchase energy-saving light bulbs, three in five (61%) are very likely to purchase locally grown products, 55% are very likely to purchase products with recycled content, just under half (48%) are very likely to purchase rechargeable batteries.
    • Around two in five each say they are very likely to purchase environmentally friendly cleaning products (44%), seasonal produce versus non seasonal (43%), reusable shopping bags (42%) and sustainable seafood (38%).
    • Just one-quarter (27%) say they are very likely to purchase organic products.
  •  harris-environment-purchase-products.jpg

The role of the supermarket

  • One-quarter (28%) of adults say their supermarket is doing something to promote or encourage activities that help ensure the long-term well-being of the environment, while 16% say their supermarket is not doing anything.
  • However, over half (56%) of adults are not sure what their supermarket is doing.
  • In the Midwest, over three in five (63%) are not sure what their supermarket is doing.
  • Those in the West and East are more likely to say their supermarkets are doing something: 36% and 33%, respectively.
  • One-quarter of Americans (26%) would like to see their supermarket adopt environmentally friendly packaging to help the environment.
  • 18% say supermarkets should recycle plastic bags and 16% say they should offer permanent shopping bags (cloth).
  • One in six (15%) adults would like to see supermarkets have glass, bottle and cardboard recycling while 8% say they should have more green in their parking lots.


About the study: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between June 5 and 11, 2007 among 2,372 adults (age 18 and over). The survey was conceived and developed by Harris Interactive and was not commissioned by any organization; however, it sought and received input from the Food Marketing Institute. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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