Farmers continually strive to produce more food to feed the world while increasing sustainability. Agricultural technology is an important piece of this puzzle.
However, consumers must embrace the new technology to make it part of the solution.
New research from the Center for Food Integrity identifies the factors that contribute to consumers accepting or rejecting new agricultural technologies. The results provide information on how the industry can move forward to build consumer confidence in new technologies.
The study measured consumer attitudes toward four agricultural and food technologies: plant gene editing, animal gene editing, plant-based meat substitutes and cultured meat.
“One thing I found very encouraging in this research is that Gen Z, millennials and early adopters tended to be more accepting of all the different model technologies we offer,” said Charlie Arnot, CEO of CFI.
Generation Z and Generation Y see technology as a tool for solving social problems. They are more willing to adopt technology that can alleviate hunger, protect the environment, or provide more convenience.
Early adopters are influential people in social settings. Your interest in new technologies can be of great benefit to the industry, as they can influence the decisions of other consumers.
It is not surprising that consumers attach great importance to transparency. “When consumers realized that they had been consuming GM products for years without their knowledge, they were outraged,” says Arnot.
Consumers want to be able to make their own informed decisions about the products they consume. Easily accessible information that explains the safety and naturalness of the final products is essential for the acceptance of the building.
When asked, consumers indicated that they were more likely to access information provided directly on food labels or packaging. However, there has been a lot of interest in accessing the information provided through third-party websites, mobile apps, and QR codes.
The research also revealed a difference in consumer acceptance of technology used in plants compared to technology used in animals.
“We attribute human characteristics to animals and we have a complicated cultural relationship with animals,” says Arnot. “People are less comfortable with technology applied to animal agriculture than with technology applied to plant agriculture.”
Furthermore, acceptance is driven by the extent to which a technology could change cultural norms. For example, meat preparation is an important part of American culture. Grilling can be a tradition and an emotional experience. Because of this link, it may be more difficult for consumers to accept technology that affects this part of their culture.
IFC hopes that the model used in this study can be applied to other agricultural technologies in the future to help the food and agriculture industries assess the mindset of consumers.
By identifying the factors that lead to consumer acceptance or rejection of each agricultural technology, the industry can chart a way forward to strategically address these factors with consumers.
“Almost 2 out of 3 have a very positive or somewhat positive view of agriculture today,” says Arnot. “This are good news.”