Genencor study shows consumer understanding of biobased products

| May 12, 2011

Roughly 20,000 biobased products are made in North America, according to the USDA, but how many consumers are familiar with the term biobased? A leading enzyme maker based out of California might have a fairly good estimate. Through the company’s study “Household Sustainability Index,” Genencor now has a better guess at how many people in the U.S. and Canada know about some of the products its enzymes help to produce. According to the study, four out of 10 American consumers “have heard of the term ‘biobased’ to describe products or product ingredients used in cleaning and personal care products, clothing and fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.” For Canadians, the number is roughly one-third of the population.

Fortunately, the number of both Americans and Canadians that said they would “definitely,” or “likely” buy a biobased household product in place of a non-biobased product (if the cost and effectiveness of the products were the same) was much higher, totaling eight out of 10.

Genencor currently provides enzymes for nearly 400 products, and Tjerk de Ruiter, CEO of Genencor, said that the findings of the study shows that consumers are prepared to choose biobased products, “especially those consumers who are familiar with green products and are generally confident about their environmental claims.”

Those claims are much easier to understand after the USDA created a BioPreferred label in March, a label that signifies a product that is made with a high percentage of agricultural ingredients.

Environics Research performed the interviews via phone for Genencor, and based the results of the study on representative samples of 2,000 Americans and 2,000 Canadians ages 18 and older, called over a period of 13 days. The results of the study are accurate within a range of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points 19 out of 20 times, according to the company.

In addition to questions geared to understand a consumer’s typical awareness of what biobased means, the study also showed recent purchases by consumers “on products perceived to be green.” In the past 60 days, 71 percent of the Canadians surveyed purchased a green product (cleaning supplies, personal care, detergents and soaps, recycled paper or energy efficient light bulbs), and 53 percent of Americans surveyed also purchased a green product.

The study also tallied what those surveyed believe characterize a biobased product. The leading characteristic that makes a product biobased or green for both Americans and Canadians was if a product is made from renewable materials, followed by a product that contains little or no harmful materials, a product that requires less energy when used, a product that is produced with less water and, lastly, a product that uses less water when used.

For more information on the study click here.