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Food & Fuel: There’s a Thin Line Between Love & Hate

PRINCETON, N.J. – Every year, Gallup asks a sampling of American consumers to rate 25 major U.S. business sectors to see which they considered to be the most and the least popular. Americans love the food industry, but they hate oil companies.

Food-related industries (restaurants, grocery stores and farming) take three of the top five slots in the latest Gallup ranking, meaning respondents love them; however, the oil and gas industry is surpassed in respondents’ level of hatred only by the federal government.

The convenience-store industry sells both food and fuel, putting it in the awkward position of providing consumers with necessities that elicit strong positive and negative emotions, but necessities they need nonetheless. Some entrepreneurs would call that an opportunity.

The Top 5:

1. Computers.

2. Restaurants.

3. Internet.

4. Groceries.

5. Farming & Agriculture.

The retail industry as a whole takes the No. 8 slot.

The Bottom 5:

21. Legal.

22. Healthcare.

23. Pharmaceuticals.

24. Oil & Gas.

25. The Federal Government.

Historically, there is a statistically strong, albeit imperfect, relationship between gas prices and Americans’ views of the oil and gas industry, said Gallup. From 2001 to 2003, when the August price of a gallon of gasoline averaged around $2, adjusting for inflation, the percentage of Americans rating the industry positively was higher than the historical average of 23%. And views of the oil and gas industry have improved since 2012 as the price of gas has fallen.

Positive perceptions of the oil and gas industry fell to an all-time low of 15% in 2008, when gas prices averaged $4.09 per gallon. Americans’ ratings of the industry were also 15% in 2006 when gas was $3.43, a 40-cent increase from the prior year.

Americans’ perceptions of the oil and gas industry were fairly flat from 2009 to 2012, when gas prices were volatile, showing a steep drop in 2009 and then a sharp increase in 2011.

Even with the improved ratings in recent years, the oil and gas industry’s net rating in 2015 is -13, based on 34% positive ratings and 47% negative ratings

See the chart below to view all of the industries ranked in Gallup’s poll.


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