In the midst of growing consumer concerns about ingredients made from non-genetically modified organisms (GMO), a new report projects U.S. retail sales of non-GMO food and beverages to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.9 percent over the next five years, according to an article on FoodNavigator-USA.com. The report, published by market research firm Packaged Facts, expects demand for organic and natural foods to drive much of the growth and predicts that by 2017, non-GMO products could account for 30 percent of the total food and beverage market with a total value of $264 billion.
While Packaged Facts states that a high percentage of consumers support GMO labeling, under one-third currently purchase non-GMO products on a regular basis. To identify those consumers that are driving demand and growth of non-GMO foods and beverages, Packaged Facts conducted a June 2013 survey of 2,000 U.S. adults which found that urban consumers are more likely that their suburban and rural counterparts to buy non-GMO products. In particular, urban dwelling mothers in their mid-30s young children are most concerned about foods and beverages made with GMO ingredients. Additionally, the survey found that Hispanic and African-American consumers as well as those under the age of 45 are more concerned about GMO ingredients than other ethnic and age groups.
The report follows recent efforts by federal legislators to require mandatory labeling of GMO foods and ingredients. In April, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced a bill that would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to “require that genetically engineered food and foods that contains genetically engineered ingredients be labeled accordingly.”
If GMO labeling becomes mandatory, Packaged Facts notes that the market for non-GMO products could comprise 40 percent of overall food and beverage market by 2017. However, the market research firm states that, at this point, there is still a significant amount of debate about the safety of GMO ingredients with attempts to sway public opinion coming from both consumer advocacy groups and global food suppliers.
“Much of the back and forth on the benefits and dangers of GMO ingredients and foods has passed beyond being a reasonable discussion of scientific data into a public relations battle between two sides trying to control a narrative,” the report states.