Majorities of Americans and People in Four Large European Countries Concerned About Food Prices

Most people are buying less expensive food

Oct 14, 2010, 15:42 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, Oct. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- A new Financial Times/Harris Poll in the United States and the five largest European countries looks at public reactions to food prices and the possible future impact of rising grain prices.  This poll finds that majorities of the public in the United States, Britain, France, Italy and Spain have become more concerned about the price of food since the global financial crisis, and that most people in these countries and in Germany are spending more money on food or are buying less expensive food.

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These are some of the findings of a Financial Times/Harris Poll conducted online by Harris Interactive® among 6,255 adults aged 16-64 within France (1,102), Germany (1,029), Great Britain (1,056), Spain (1,006), U.S. (1,002) and adults aged 18-64 in Italy (1,060) between September 15 and 21, 2010.  

According to a recent Financial Times article, worries about rising food prices have been driven by the soaring prices of wheat, barley and corn, following poor harvest in Russia, Ukraine, northern Europe and Canada, due to adverse weather.  The surge has accelerated, with corn prices up 13.5% and wheat more than 10%, after the U.S. government warned of 'dramatically' lower supplies.

The FT article goes onto say that Nicolas Sarkozy, French president, has made reform of European commodities regulation a priority for France's Group of 20 presidency, which begins in November.  Angela Merkel, German chancellor, last week also threw her weight behind the push for tougher regulation.  Key policymakers in Brussels also support an overhaul.

Specific findings of this new poll include:

  • Majorities in Great Britain, France, Italy, Spain and the U.S. (ranging from 53% to 63%) are more concerned (either somewhat more concerned or much more concerned) about the price of food. In Germany, over four in ten (42%) also feel this way.

  • Further, in all the countries surveyed, about four in ten adults (ranging from 35% to 40%) indicate that they are spending more money on the same type of food and approximately two in ten or less are spending less on food.

  • Many people in France, Germany and Spain believe that speculators are the main cause of rising food prices and are to blame far more than the impact of droughts and heavy rains, and of government action, such as export bans.  However, Britons and Americans mostly blame the bad weather and government policies.  

  • Only a small minority in Europe and the United States believes higher demand from China, India and other emerging countries is the main culprit;

  • Many Europeans—including a majority of Britons, Spaniards and Italians—believe governments should cut VAT rates on staples to compensate for surging prices.

TABLE 1

Concern about price of food

"Since the global financial crisis, have you become any more or less concerned about the price of food?"

Base: All EU and U.S. adults



U.S.

Great

Britain

France

Italy

Spain

Germany

%

%

%

%

%

%

More concerned (Net)

58

60

63

59

53

42

Much more concerned

20

18

20

17

23

9

Somewhat more concerned

39

42

43

42

30

33

No more or less concerned

39

36

36

37

42

51

Less concerned (Net)

3

3

1

5

6

8

Somewhat less concerned

2

3

1

3

3

7

Much less concerned

*

*

1

2

2

1

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 2

Impact of rising food prices

"As a response to the rising food prices, would say that you are..?"

Base: All EU and U.S. adults



U.S.

Great

Britain

France

Italy

Spain

Germany

%

%

%

%

%

%

Spending more money on the same type of food that you've always purchased

35

35

40

36

36

37

Spending about the same amount of money on less, or less expensive, food

42

44

37

43

50

55

Spending less money on less, or less expensive, food

23

21

22

21

14

7

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 3

Reasons for increasing grain prices

"As you may know, increasing grain prices have led to food shortages and protests in developing countries, and worries of another food crisis. In your opinion what is the main cause of rising grain prices?"


Base: All EU and U.S. adults



U.S.

Great

Britain

France

Italy

Spain

Germany

%

%

%

%

%

%

Farming Practices

7

4

6

4

3

4

Bad Weather

13

29

11

11

6

13

Governmental Policies

23

14

13

28

22

12

Global Warming

5

8

2

5

8

10

Market Speculators

11

9

49

25

36

35

Growing demands on countries like China and India

14

14

10

13

7

13

Other reason

5

3

1

3

3

2

Not sure

23

20

7

11

15

11

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 4

Responsibility of developed countries towards developed and third world countries

"Some argue that developed countries, such as [INSERT COUNTRY], should have a responsibility to help less developed and third world countries cope with extreme food price fluctuations. How much do you agree or disagree with this argument?"

Base: All EU and U.S. adults



U.S.

Great

Britain

France

Italy

Spain

Germany

%

%

%

%

%

%

Agree (NET)

35

33

44

44

36

36

Strongly agree

9

9

10

12

12

10

Somewhat agree

26

24

34

32

24

27

Neither agree nor disagree

25

32

32

33

34

39

Disagree (NET)

40

34

24

23

30

25

Somewhat disagree

23

19

14

17

16

15

Strongly disagree

16

16

10

6

14

10

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 5

Reduction of customs duty and VAT on imported foods

"Some also argue for customs duty and VAT to be reduced to keep down prices of imported foods. How much would you agree or disagree with such measure?"

Base: All EU and U.S. adults



Great

Britain

France

Italy

Spain

Germany

%

%

%

%

%

Agree (Net)

52

48

56

52

43

Strongly agree

18

13

18

24

13

Somewhat agree

34

35

38

28

29

Neither agree nor disagree

27

22

25

23

34

Disagree (Net)

21

31

19

24

24

Somewhat disagree

14

21

12

12

18

Strongly disagree

7

10

7

12

6

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



Methodology

This FT/Harris Poll was conducted online by Harris Interactive among a total of 6,255 adults aged 16-64 within France (1,102), Germany (1,029), Great Britain (1,056), Spain (1,006), U.S. (1,002) and adults aged 18-64 in Italy (1,060) between September 15 and 21, 2010.  Figures for age, sex, education, region and Internet usage were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult populations of the respective countries. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls and the British Polling Council.

The Harris Poll® #120, October 14, 2010

By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:

Corporate Communications

Harris Interactive

212-539-9600

press@harrisinteractive.net



SOURCE Harris Interactive



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