The Manitoba Consumer Monitor (MCM) Food Panel has been using surveys since 2011 to find out what consumers in the province think about different food related topics and how they related to health.
From food safety to local food, organic food, functional food, grains and gluten.
With this being the year of the pulses, studies have also examined if there’s an increase in foods like beans, peas and lentils, and if there are misconceptions about the pulses.
“A lot of times people are confused and we can catch that in the survey and inform government or agribusiness that consumers don’t understand or there’s a lack of education,” said Jocelyne Gaudet, project coordinator for the MC Food Panel.
Survey results are used by government to shape policies and programs. They are also used by farmers and food developers.
There are 4,000 Manitobans participating in the surveys. On average, 2,000 are from Winnipeg and 2,000 from outside the city.
Myrna Grahn, manager of the Bruce D. Campbell Farm and Food Discovery Centre says survey results are used during tours of their facility.
“We’re hoping to learn what consumers think or know about the different farming practices that are used in Manitoba,” said Grahn.
“Do they think they’re good practices or do they even know what farmers do on their farms.”
The MCM Food Panel is hoping to get more people to participate in the online and mail-out surveys.
Funding for the program located at the University of Manitoba is directed through Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial and territorial initiative.
With Health Canada coming out with new labeling initiatives in the fall, The MCM Food Panel looked at product labels.
“We wanted to see are consumers reading labels, do they care,” said Gaudet.
“Do they want the type font bigger? What will make them look at it. Do they look at it and what do they want to see on that food label.”
The study is taking place over a long period of time. Gaudet says the next few years will be important for the organization
“We are now starting to see those trends evolve over time.”
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