• The San Juan Daily Star

Food chamber shares preliminary data from Consumer Survey

Ferdysac Márquez, president of the Chamber of Food Marketing, Industry and Distribution

By The Star Staff

The island Chamber of Food Marketing, Industry and Distribution (MIDA by its Spanish acronym) on Tuesday shared preliminary data from its 2021 Consumer Survey, which has shown trends in the behavior of consumers in Puerto Rico for the past 29 years.

The results will be presented during its annual convention Nov. 11-13 at the Puerto Rico Convention Center, which will be a face-to-face event after it was a virtual one last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The industry is eager to meet again. This is demonstrated by the fact that the exhibition area is fully booked,” MIDA President Ferdysac Márquez said at a press conference. “In addition, the presentation of the Consumer Survey will allow us to analyze, discuss and provide solutions to the concerns of our industry and our consumers.”

The chairman of the survey committee, Richard Valdés, said the 2021 survey was conducted through house-to-house interviews with 1,350 people in the regions of San Juan, Ponce, Mayagüez, Arecibo, Bayamón, Carolina, Humacao and Guayama. The study has a margin of error of 2.67 and a confidence level of 95%.

The interviews with the individuals responsible for purchasing groceries in households were conducted between the months of July and August 2021. The study sample reflected that 54 percent of those surveyed were women and 46 percent were men who identified themselves as home buyer agents. The latter group is increasingly involved in managing food purchases at home, compared to 24 percent in 2018. About 38 percent of those surveyed are married and 49 percent are Nutritional Assistance Program card users.

“In Consumer Survey 2021 we asked the buyer agent to describe his family nucleus to us. Beyond saying how many people make it up, we wanted to know who those people are within the family nucleus and how they define themselves,” Valdés said.

For the first time, the composition of the household was analyzed in depth, information that helps the merchant and manufacturer. The results noted that the average composition is approximately 2.4 people per household. About 31 percent of the households included a mother, father and children, 17 percent mothers and children, and 27 percent were living alone.

For the first time Consumer Survey 2021 complemented the study with two qualitative phases: 110 secondary buyer surveys and a global phase with six interviews in six countries.

The global phase featured interviews with the main home buyer agent in: Argentina, Spain, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the United States and Puerto Rico.

“These interviews allow MIDA to compare and evaluate the reality of the local consumer with those of other countries,” said Diana Rodríguez, president of Lighthouse Strategies, the research firm that conducted the survey. “In this way we were able to corroborate that the Puerto Rican consumer is not alone, but faces crises very similar to the rest of the world. For example, according to a respondent from Argentina, in the past he was scared by the events related to the pandemic, but now he is used to it; a scenario that is very similar to that of Puerto Rico.”

“In addition, the consumer is in a continuous learning process where he adopts new practices and becomes more demanding on services,” Rodríguez said.

Price and availability are the main consumer concerns. “The consumer recognizes that the pandemic has not ended and we were able to learn their biggest concerns about the current situation, which are: increased food prices (94 percent), the ability to have enough money to pay for it (77 percent), fear of infection (72 percent), and product shortages (76 percent),” Valdés said.

“Given these concerns, the consumer has taken measures such as: cooking more at home (59 percent), storing products (50 percent) and avoiding food waste (44 percent), the latter being the most prominent between the ages of 25 and 44 years,” Valdés added.

Fluctuations in monthly spending on purchases, meanwhile, reflect the greater influence of federal funds. The 2021 study reflected average spending of $407 per month, representing a slight decrease compared to 2020. This monthly spending reflects the consumer’s reality in an atypical year full of fluctuations.

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