US consumers think big food firms are overcharging

Posted: 18 March 2024 | | No comments yet

US consumers believe food manufacturers overcharge, as revealed by a survey, highlighting bipartisan dissatisfaction with industry pricing.


An enlightening survey conducted by the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences has revealed that most US consumers think food manufacturers are too big and overcharge for their products.

Consumers of all major political persuasions responded similarly to the survey, with both Democrats and Republicans feeling that food and beverage manufacturers are not charging a fair price for their products.

In total, 72.7 percent of survey participants felt that food manufacturers were overcharging consumers, with 75 percent feeling the same about grocery stores and 75.6 percent about restaurants.

Episode 29 – Food price inflation and cost of living

Interestingly, the same participants largely felt that farmers were charging a fair price for their produce, with only 21.9 percent suggesting that they were overcharging consumers.

The results were very similar across Democrat, Republican, and Independent leaning respondents, suggesting a fairly homogenous view of food industry actors by the American public.

“There aren’t many things that the US public agrees on, but this seems to be an exception,”  said agricultural and consumer economist Maria Kalaitzandonakes.

“Democrats, Republicans, and Independents all feel like they’re being overcharged.”

These insights were taken from the Gardner Food and Agriculture Policy Survey which is conducted online every quarter to take the temperature of the US consumer base on food and agricultural issues. Each quarter 1,000 participants are recruited, which the survey says matches the US population “n terms of gender, age, annual household income, and US census region”.

Although the majority of respondents said that food manufacturers and grocery stores are too large and are overcharging consumers, they also said that large food manufacturers and retailers are better at keeping prices low, creating a mixed message.

However, the survey also revealed that consumers trust smaller firms when it comes to things like sustainability and “healthiness” of food. Reassuringly, the majority of consumers felt that when it comes to food safety, both large and small food companies measure up equally.

With the US Presidential Election later in 2024 likely to feature food prices heavily, the results recorded in this survey perhaps suggest that feelings toward this issue are much more bi-partisan than might be first thought.

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