Survey details political division in American views on food inflation

Liberals severely underestimating increase in food prices from last year, conservatives' expectations for inflation overstated for coming year.


Source: Purdue University

via National Hog Farmer - Sep 14, 2022


Personal politics influences consumer perceptions of food inflation, with liberals estimating the increases at about three to four percentage points below conservatives, according to the monthly Consumer Food Insights Report.


The survey-based report out of Purdue University's Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability assesses food spending, consumer satisfaction and values, support of agricultural and food policies, and trust in information sources.


"The divergent perceptions of food inflation between liberals and conservatives is interesting to observe," said Jayson Lusk, the head and distinguished professor of agricultural economics at Purdue, who leads the center. "Not only are liberals severely underestimating the increase in food prices from last year, but conservatives' expectations for inflation are also likely overstating its rate for the coming year at least compared to U.S. Department of Agriculture predictions."


Purdue experts conducted and evaluated the survey, which included 1,200 consumers across the United States.


Additional key results include:


         Consumer food spending and inflation expectations decreased slightly.

         Food insecurity levels have not increased despite record-high food prices.

         Liberals prioritize the social and environmental sustainability of their food more than others.

         "Local food" is politically less polarizing relative to concepts like "plant-based" or "climate change."

         Both liberals and conservatives support funding for agricultural conservation and research programs.


Notably, both diet well-being and food happiness scales show little difference among liberals, moderates and conservatives. The political agreement over the quality of food that Americans consume highlights the success of the U.S. food system, which also shows in scores on the Sustainable Food Purchasing Index.


"In a country as diverse as the U.S., we have been able to satisfy a great number of diets, tastes and needs," Lusk said.


The SFP, a self-reported measure of food purchasing, assesses how well consumer shopping habits mesh with healthy diets from sustainable food systems. This month's SFP index of 69 on a scale of 100 is unchanged from the July report. The ongoing stability of the SFP index shows that consumer willingness to make sustainable food choices changes little from month to month...


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