Study: Consumers Confuse “Organic” and “Non-GMO” Labels
A study by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences surveyed 1,132 respondents to examine their willingness to pay for food labeled as “USDA Organic” versus “Non-GMO Project Verified.”
In particular, the researchers measured respondents’ willingness to pay for a box of 12 granola bars and a pound of apples.
When consumers looked at packages of Granola bars labeled “non-GMO Project,” they were willing to spend 35 cents more than for the boxes that had text that read, “contains genetically engineered ingredients.” With the “USDA Organic” label, consumers were willing to pay 9 cents more.
With apples, respondents were willing to pay 35 cents more for those labeled “non-GMO Project” and 40 cents more for those labeled “USDA Organic.”
The results led the researchers to conclude that many consumers do not distinguish between the “organic” and “non-genetically modified” labels. These results follow on recent findings that sales of products labeled by the Non-GMO Project, more than doubled from 2014 to 2016 — from $7 billion to $16 billion in 2016, whereas the sales of organic foods (although gaining in popularity) have increased at a much slower rate.