By Barbara Kessler

foodbaskets.JPGU.S. consumers are looking for locally grown food, or at least have a largely favorable response to the concept, according to a consumer report released this week. The BBMG Conscious Consumer Report asked grocery shoppers to give their opinion of several eco-friendly labels. The results:

  • 48 percent had a strongly favorable response to the term “ biodegradable”
  • 46 percent had a strongly favorable response to the term “cruelty free”
  • 45 percent were strongly favorable to the term “locally grown”

The label “Organic” fared less well, garnering only a 26 percent “strongly favorable” rating. The survey, unfortunately, didn’t ask consumers why, leaving us to surmise that the higher prices carried by certified Organic products may be one reason for the drop off. (Proponents of Organic products say that prices should equalize as they achieve more economies of scale.)

The report did separate out certain types of consumers for further query, finding that consumers known as “Enlighteneds,” who place a high degree of importance on socially responsible behaviors, were three times more likely than the average consumer to adopt eco-friendly and local food products. The report concluded that this meant these products would continue to gain in popularity.

“There is no place where the trend toward localism is more evident than in America’s supermarkets, where consumers are making the everyday purchases that have the greatest impact on their own health and households,” said Mitch Baranowski, principal and co-founder, BBMG, a branding and marketing agency based in New York City and San Francisco.

The Enlightened or leading edge consumers were “strongly favorable” toward products labeled biodegradable (88 percent), cruelty free (87 percent), locally grown (85 percent) and Organic (67 percent).

Quality and price remained critical for all the consumers surveyed. The market study by BBMG — in conjunction with research partners Global Strategy Group and consumer consultancy Bagatto – surveyed 2,007 adults in September 2007.

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