Consumers’ top three worries

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INDIANAPOLIS — When consumers shop for groceries these days, they usually ask themselves, “How did the bill get so high?”

New research shows the rising cost of food is among the three greatest consumer concerns in the U.S. today.

The Center for Food Integrity surveyed more than 2,000 consumers and asked them to rate their level of concern on a variety of issues.

Respondents indicated they were ‘very concerned’ about not only rising food costs but rising energy costs and the state of the U.S. economy.

The survey showed 60 percent of the respondents are more concerned about food prices today than they were a year ago.

Consumers may use coupons, keep a lookout for sales, purchase less expensive cuts of meat and try skipping unnecessary trips to the grocery store as ways to cut corners.

“I believe this is the highest level of concern about the cost of food that we’ve seen in some time, certainly since World War II,” said Charlie Arnot, the chief executive officer of the Center for Food Integrity.

“The food system must address these concerns to maintain consumer trust and confidence in our ability to provide the safe, abundant and affordable food consumers expect.”

To accomplish this, Arnot believes the food system must engage in dialogue with stakeholders along every step of the food system, including farmers, food companies, processors, retailers, restaurants, consumers and governmental and non-governmental organizations.

“The key to a sustainable food system is balance,” Arnot said. “Our organization believes sustainability includes practices which are ethically grounded, scientifically verified and economically viable. When those three elements operate in balance, and we establish proactive and beneficial dialogue up and down the chain, our food system can be supported by stakeholders and operate successfully.”

Following are additional results from the center’s survey related to personal finance, the economy and the food system.

Forty-seven percent of respondents strongly agreed with the statement, “With the increase in food prices, we tend to eat out less than one year ago.”

Thirty-nine percent of respondents strongly agreed with the statement, “With the increase in food prices, I am more likely to buy less expensive cuts of meat.”

Thirty-six percent of respondents strongly disagreed with the statement, “With the increase in food prices, I buy more canned fruits and vegetables instead of fresh.”

Twenty-three percent strongly agreed that U.S. food is among the most affordable in the world today.

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