Stonyfield Farm's Gary Hirshberg has seen many changes in consumer food preferences since founding his yogurt company in 1983, but nothing compares to the food revolution that has taken shape during the past several years.
Nearly 70 percent of consumers choose to buy food from local providers whenever possible, while 63 percent of Generation Y buys organic food on a regular basis--compared to the national average of 46 percent--according to consumer research firm The Hartman Group.
Consumers' demand for transparency when it comes to food sources is largely driving the trends, according to Hirshberg.
"They want to trust their food [and] they want it high-quality produced, whether it's in a restaurant or by a processor or from a farm," Hirshberg said in a recent roundtable Inc. hosted. "There's no question there’s been a revolution."
While consumers' trust in institutions is generally down, Hirshberg pointed out that trust in food companies in particular has fallen considerably in recent years.
"People don't trust companies to protect their interests and I think there have been plenty of reasons," he said. "The word 'natural' really doesn't mean much at all anymore, so there's been a lot of fuel for this."
To anyone who contends that the preference for organic and locally-sourced food is merely a phase, Hirshberg cites the fact that consumers have been gravitating slowly towards these preferences for many years.
"This began in New York and San Francisco some time ago, but now it's everywhere, so the next generation is coming along," he said. "This is not a fad by any stretch."
To hear more about the food revolution, watch the video below.