People’s perceptions of technology and food are always changing, and recent data from Pairwise research shows a major shift in American shoppers’ attitudes about the use of technology to develop new produce varieties.
In a quantitative study with 511 U.S. shoppers fielded this March, Pairwise saw a dramatic increase in just over three years in the number of American consumers who either agree or strongly agree that “using technology to create new fruits and vegetables is a great sign of progress.”
At Pairwise, we monitor consumer attitudes about the technology used to grow, process, and deliver the foods that they choose to eat. Consumer perceptions can vary based on demographics, such as age or level of educational attainment, or on psychographics, such as openness to new foods or the desire to influence others in one’s network or community.
What drove this shift? Two key factors have emerged:
Younger adults are more open to food technology. On the question of progress, a full 63% of Gen Z and Millennial consumers (those aged 18-42) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, while only 33% of Gen X and younger Boomers did (those aged 43-60). Other recent studies have supported this insight that Gen Z is more open to food technology, with 77% of Gen Z adults agreeing that they are “likely to try food grown with technology” (Ketchum, 2019).
Growing sentiment around the need for new approaches to tackling global challenges. Consumer sentiment also is changing around the connection between food+tech and addressing issues like climate. According to recent research from The Hartman Group, 67% of consumers who self identify as early adopters of new foods agreed that "We need to find ways to meet society’s nutritional needs with fewer resources like energy, water, or carbon." This supports the idea that food, technology, and sustainability are connected in consumers' minds in a meaningful way.
These evolving perceptions signal a paradigm shift for technology-enabled foods, and the companies that deliver innovative products that meet consumer needs, like flavor and convenience, stand to win with consumers.