Consumer trust in the food sector has increased over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report from EIT Food can reveal.
A study of 20 000 consumers across 18 European countries reveals trust in the food sector has increased over the course of 2020, yet the majority of consumers don’t consider the sector to be working in the public interest.
The EIT Food Trust Report surveyed 19 800 consumers from 18 European countries to measure trust in the food system and confidence in food products. The study was conducted by a consortium of pan-European academic partners including the University of Reading, the European Food Information Council (EUFIC), Aarhus University, KU Leuven, and the University of Warsaw.
The report shows that consumer trust in all parts of the food sector has increased, and with it the confidence they have in food products, with overall increases of between 3% and 8%.
Farmers hold public trust – but governments and manufacturers lag behind
Of all players within the food sector, farmers are the most trusted by the public, with two-thirds (67%) of European consumers reporting that they trust farmers compared to just 13% that do not.
Trust in both government agencies and food manufacturers, however, has lagged behind, with less than half of consumers across all countries (47% and 46% respectively) stating that they trust these groups. Meanwhile, over a quarter of consumers (29% and 26%) actively distrust government authorities and manufacturers respectively.
Consumer demands on health and sustainability not being met by industry
When it comes to confidence in food products themselves, consumers believe that food safety, on the whole, has improved, with an 8% increase from 2018 in those agreeing that food is generally safe, to a total of 55%. In the UK, this rises to 74%.
Likewise, just three in 10 consumers (30%) are confident that food products are generally produced in a sustainable way - meaning environmentally friendly, resource-efficient, and ethically responsible, compared to 42% that consider them to be unsustainable.
As the global population moves towards 10 billion by 2050, we need innovative technologies and collaborative approaches from farm to fork to deliver accessible and healthy food products in a sustainable way. The EIT Food Trust Report shows that there are clear opportunities for the food industry to demonstrate how it is acting in the public interest and meet consumer demand regarding health and sustainability.
Professor Klaus Grunert, Department of Management at Aarhus University
Ultimately, to create a future-fit food system, we must put consumers at the centre of the development, production, distribution and promotion of food. Many of our EIT Food projects work directly with consumers to increase transparency, thereby empowering healthy and sustainable food choices.
Saskia Nuijten, Director of Communication and Public Engagement at EIT Food
For more information, please contact Julia Bush, Greenhouse PR.