According to new research from The Center for Food Integrity, online engagement about antibiotic resistance is growing rapidly and could be one of a growing number of factors that is driving consumers to reduce or eliminate meat from their diets.
Antibiotic resistance results when bacteria change in ways that reduce or eliminate the effectiveness of drugs – leading to the rise of “superbugs” that are difficult to treat. There currently are more than 34-million consumers actively engaging on the topic and it’s gaining traction, as shown by CFI’s Illuminate digital research that analyzes millions of interactions online in real time.
“The research indicates that number could increase to more than 65 million within the next two years,” says Terry Fleck, CFI executive director. “That’s a 92% increase.”
Engaging on antibiotic resistance is one thing; the behaviors that result is another.
Consumers most interested in the topic, according to the research profile, are white, educated, middle-class females between the ages of 25 and 40 who want to be viewed as responsible and compassionate and will adjust their way of living according to what they believe is environmentally sustainable.
“While they view protein as an important part of a balanced diet and consume meat, milk and eggs,” says Fleck, “the research shows they’ll consider going meatless due to concerns that livestock production practices, including the use of antibiotics, are not responsible and environmentally sustainable.”
This type of consumer wants to be considered a good provider for herself and her family and believes her purchasing decisions can drive positive change. As a result, she may be more apt to purchase organic products, go meatless or consider new meat alternatives, said Fleck.
In addition, she often goes online for recommendations from like-minded peers about her food choices.
The research reveals the motivations, fears and beliefs about antibiotic resistance and identifies influencers and preferred brands of engaged consumers – providing a roadmap to understanding where to find them and how best to engage to earn trust.
“With engagement on this issue expected to grow dramatically in the next 24 months, it’s an important time to get involved in the conversation,” Fleck said. “And engaging with interested consumers with content that reflects their values, beliefs and attitudes is important.”
Consumers don’t simply want information, “they want to know that you care about the same things they do, like safe food, and high standards in animal care and environmental sustainability,” he says.