Perishable Preferences at the Polls: Fresh Foods Bring Americans Together

Idaho Falls, ID – As some may have noticed, there is a presidential election coming in less than two weeks.

Hotly contested is an understatement, with each side mercilessly vying for the votes of the American people.  It feels to many that the country has never been more divided on political issues.  While the team at Category Partners does not endorse any presidential candidate nor delve into the highly charged world of politics, they do care about the fresh food preferences of their fellow Americans.  As the talking heads and social media try to point out how different the people on the other side of the aisle are, Category Partners set out to learn if political preference correlates with consumers’ penchant for the fresh produce, meats, dairy, deli and bakery foods.

A recent Category Partners study of 2,000 consumers with a nationally representative sample across age, region, income, race and gender delved into the divide of the political parties and their eating habits.  The study uncovered how often consumers eat different fresh foods from each perishable department of the retail store, where they most often shop and what types of foods they look for, and…. which presidential candidate each of the polled consumers support.  Category Partners withheld individual candidate preference results, choosing instead to focus reporting on the relationship between candidate affiliation and fresh food preference. That said, the majority (85%) of those polled chose either President Donald Trump or Vice President Joe Biden with 13% stating that they would either not be voting or have not yet decided which candidate they will be voting for in November.  Kanye West and other candidates such as Jo Jorgensen, Bernie Sanders and Mark Charles collectively garnered support from 2% of those polled.

The results were refreshing.   They revealed that while Americans may be divided on which candidate they want for president, they are not that divided on the fresh foods they consume.  For example, 56% of Joe Biden supporters claimed they eat fresh fruits and vegetables at least daily while 54% of Donald Trump supporters said the same.  Similarly, in the dairy department, 59% of Trump supporters claimed to consume dairy products at least daily while 58% of Biden supporters enjoy dairy products at least daily.  In fact, the largest disparity between Trump and Biden supporters is found in the meat department with 33% of Biden supporters eating meat at least daily compared to 40% of Trump supporters.

Further, while neither of the two major candidates seem able to agree on just about anything, the Americans that support them agree on quite a bit regarding what they like to eat.  In the produce department Trump and Biden supporters agree that potatoes are their favorite vegetable and strawberries are their favorite fruit.  In dairy, cheddar cheese won the day as the most preferred cheese for all Americans. Interestingly, while only a handful of respondents chose Kanye West, they chose Broccoli as their favorite vegetable.

The only disparity, albeit minor, between the supporters of the presidential candidates comes in the meat department where chicken (39%) seems to be the preference for Biden supporters and beef (41%) the most often chosen meat for Trump supporters.  Tom Barnes, Category Partners’ CEO, noted, “While we were not surprised by the results, it felt good to confirm that all Americans are pretty much the same despite some loud voices out there claiming political supporters of the other candidate ‘must be insane’.  As my grandfather would always say – we all still put our pants on one leg at a time, and I would add that we all still prefer to eat fresh foods as often as possible.  We aren’t all that different.”

As Category Partners dug further into the demographics, our preferences do change with age.  This is true for both our presidential candidate preference and how often we consume different foods from the perishable departments.  For example, of those polled that claimed they never eat meat, the younger the consumer the more likely in Biden’s camp they are.  Consistently, those who eat meat at least daily shifted further into Trump’s camp the older the respondents are.

When respondents were asked where they prefer to shop, Category Partners found that Trump supporters are slightly more likely to shop at superstores or club warehouses, while Biden supporters are more likely to shop at natural/specialty stores.  This also coincides with the types of foods Biden

supporters prefer to buy as they lean more toward purchasing organic and sustainably farmed fresh foods than those supporting Trump.  Cara Ammon, Category Partners’ Senior Vice President, Research and Market Intel, added, “While there is a slight difference in shopping behaviors among the supporters of either candidate, the differences are minor.  Those looking for a certain type of food or prefer to shop at a particular type of store can be found supporting both major presidential candidates.”

Ammon concluded, “Come November 4th we may or may not have a new leader of our nation, but all Americans will still be eating fresh foods from all of the perishable departments of their local stores and farmers markets.  Whether it be cheddar cheese on their sandwich and strawberries to snack on, or mashed potatoes for dinner, it appears that no matter your political persuasion we can all agree on the fact that fresh food is important to us all.”

HH income between <$25,000 and >$150,000, encompassing various ethnicities and nearly evenly split between female/male.

About Category Partners – a nationally recognized resource, among food companies and retailers, for delivering actionable business/consumer insights, marketing/sales plans and technology/data solutions. Category Partners is producer owned and headquartered in Idaho Falls, ID, with offices in Laguna Hills, Calif., Chicago, and Wenatchee, Wash.