The PMA on Feb. 1-2 commissioned a survey among 1,000 primary food shoppers nationwide to assess consumer perception of the safety of consuming fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. The survey was repeated on May 3 - 4, several days after "Dateline," a nationwide television program aired on NBC, focused on the presence of e-coli in bagged salads. PMA's initial survey was conducted to create a baseline of consumer perception prior to the airing of the program while the second survey was conducted to determine if perceptions had changed.
"Although this research was conducted, in part, to find out whether or not perceptions were affected by the broadcast, we also discovered some great news about consumer attitudes towards fresh cut," Kathy Means, PMA's vice president of government relations, said in a statement yesterday.
In February, the primary shoppers who were interviewed said they like having access to fresh, pre-cut produce, that they buy a lot of it, and have very little concern over its safety. Most consumers (71% in May; 74% in February) replied that they rely on their own personal experience when making decisions about food safety.
Those who rely on comments from family and friends constituted 33% in May and 35% in February. Twenty-two percent in May and twenty-six percent in February said they relied on information from government health experts. The fewest cited media coverage as being the source they most relied upon for this information (16% in May and 17% in February).
Approximately 87% of consumers say they have purchased fresh-cut fruits and vegetables in the past year, which is greater than the 82 percent consumers reported in February. Four in ten say they have purchased more than they purchased the previous year. One-third project they will increase their purchases next year.
According to the analysts at Opinion Dynamics Corporation, the independent public opinion research firm that conducted the surveys, the television program did not appear to have affected attitudes.