Consumer visits to farm pay off in increased support: survey

Consumers who visit a working farm are more likely to have a very positive perception of commercial farms.

However, about 70 per cent of those surveyed recently by Grassroots Public Affairs in its annual Grassroots Greenhouse report have never visited a working farm.

Twenty-five per cent rated their perception as a positive 10 on a scale of 10. Three quarters of respondents who had visited a working farm rated their positive perception as at least seven out of 10.

Nine per cent were in the middle of the scale however at five out of 10.

This is the third year for the Grassroots Public Affairs survey and this year a focus was on lab-grown meat.

The survey found that while most Canadians have heard of lab-grown meat, most of them have little interest in trying it.

Why it matters: Consumer trends can have effects on demand for farm products.

One in three Canadians said they were “very” or “somewhat interested” in trying meat proteins grown in manufacturing facilities.

However, younger Canadians and those with higher income were more willing to try it.

Thirty-two per cent of respondents said they had not heard of the term, 31 per cent had heard of the term, but didn’t know what it means, whereas 37 per cent had heard of the term and say they know what it means.

Respondents were given terms for the practice including “cultured, cell-based, or cultivated meat, sometimes known as lab-grown meat.”

Graphic: Grassroots Public Affairs.

Food system confidence

The survey found there remains a very high level of confidence in Canadian-produced food, with 91 per cent “confident” in food grown or produced domestically.

However, some year-over-year changes showed a response to the major discussion point around the food system during the pandemic, including these findings:

  • Eighty-six per cent of Canadians endorse government spending on the agriculture and agri-food sector, which is down from 92 per cent in early 2020.
  • Forty-four per cent said that agriculture and agri-food is of “very large importance” to Canada’s economic landscape, which declined from 63 per cent in 2020.
  • Canadian consumers are eating less red meat than they were in 2020, but they are consuming more animal sources of protein including fish and eggs, compared to 2019.
  • Agriculture is less likely to be recommended as a career in 2020 compared to 2019, with a net likelihood of recommending declining by 21 per cent.

The online survey was conducted of a representative panel of Canadians, from March 23-30, 2021.