Most Americans engaging online about climate change are mired in the debate as to whether it exists. However, the focus of the conversation will shift dramatically in the next two years, according to new research from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI). In addition, there is no evidence consumers associate or link the consumption of animal protein to climate change.
“The findings aren’t surprising, given the rapidly growing interest in sustainability,” said Terry Fleck, CFI executive director. “Those interested in causes and solutions want to bring about change by taking action on a personal level and being the change. They also fear making uninformed choices, want to protect the American way of life, and look to science and innovation to provide solutions.”
While consumers are not talking about a link between consumption of animal protein and climate change, they are talking about the link between greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production and climate change, according to the research. The level of online conversation about this topic is just shy of 26 million, but expected to grow to nearly 210 percent in the next two years.
“While ‘local food’ is not associated with improving climate change, key topics associated with ‘local food’ and ‘improving climate change’ include beef industry topics like cattle farming, beef consumption, industrial agriculture, environmental footprint and water use,” said Fleck. “These topics are more related to causes than local food production to improving climate change.”
Engaging consumers on the topic of climate change presents a unique challenge given today’s political environment, said Fleck. However, the predicted conversation shift to causes and solutions, and focus on science and innovation, provides an opportunity for the food industry to communicate its successes and its commitment to addressing climate change via technology.
“They want to play a part in improving our planet and ‘be the change,’” he said. “We encourage the food industry to do its part to empower them.”
Additional information on CFI’s digital ethnography research can be found at www.foodintegrity.org.
The Center for Food Integrity is a not-for-profit organization that helps today’s food system earn consumer trust. Our members and project partners, who represent the diversity of the food system, are committed to providing accurate information and working together to address important issues in food and agriculture. The Center does not lobby or advocate for individual companies or brands. For more information, visit www.foodintegrity.org.