New public opinion research on hot button issues around food

Artificial intelligence tool maps Canadians' conversations about food online.
Canadian Poultry magazine
March 28, 2019
By Canadian Poultry magazine
Top Canadian Conversations Online on Food and Farming 2017-2018.
Top Canadian Conversations Online on Food and Farming 2017-2018. CNW Group/Canadian Centre for Food Integrity
A new study provides further understanding into the tides of public opinion around Canadian food, how it's grown, and the relationship consumers want with farmers and those that process their food.

Public Opinion: a study of Canadian conversations online about food and farming led by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI), uncovered how food, farming and a handful of hot button issues capture national interest in millions of natural conversations online.

The issues Canadians are most engaged with include climate change and the links to food production, organic foods, and discussions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

"This groundbreaking work captured and quantified actual discussion and real sentiment of over 254,900 Canadians talking about food and how it's grown," stated Crystal Mackay, CCFI President. "This kind of research is integral to truly addressing consumer demands and questions in an open and authentic manner."

Key conversations Canadians were discussing online over the two-year period included:
  • 8 million people were discussing cannabis
  • 2.5 million climate change as it relates to food production
  • 2.1 million genetically modified foods (GMOs)
  • 2 million organic food and farming
Surprisingly, for the most part, millennials and baby boomers were found to be similarly aligned in their views on food issues based on their online conversations.

This is not the case in CCFI's more traditional quantitative research. The study also identified opportunities for players in the Canadian food system to join the millions of conversations online around key topics such as cost of food and climate change.

The topics covered farm practices and food production in general, and specifically GMOs, hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. As found in previous CCFI research, Canadians most commonly associated farmers with all the key topics studied; more so than any other food system stakeholders.

The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) study measured the discussions related to food and farming of 254,900 Canadians for 24 months on social media, from January 2017 to January 2019.

The study assessed many social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit using a proprietary artificial intelligence tool to analyze public social media, with no personalized data attached to the findings.

View the more detailed report findings on this study and other CCFI studies related to Canadians' opinions on food and farming in French or English at

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