February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, but the relationship between consumers and the U.S. food industry isn’t always smooth sailing. A growing curiosity and skepticism about how food is produced and who’s producing it leaves some consumers with cold feet, wondering if they can trust that the folks producing their food are doing what’s in their best interest.
But the latest consumer trust research from The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI), “Inside the Minds of Influencers: The Truth About Trust,” shows five positive trends that point to a blossoming relationship.
- When asked if the food system is headed in the right direction or down the wrong track, 55 percent said right track. That’s up 15 percent from the previous year – a significant upward trend. It was just 34 percent in 2013. While we don’t ask why they believe it’s headed in the right direction, we assume that today’s consumer is pleased with the food industry and its willingness to provide the foods they’re looking for – from high-protein and gluten-free products to organic foods and “clean” ingredients.
Each year, CCFI surveys consumers on more than 30 trends in food and agriculture, asking them to rate statements on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 to 3 is a low level of agreement, 4 to 7 is a moderate level of agreement and 8 to 10 is strong agreement.
- “I have access to all of the information I want about where my food comes from, how it’s produced and its safety.” Forty percent strongly agree. That’s a significant jump from just 17 percent when the survey began in 2008. It shows the food industry has stepped up to engage and provide consumers access to the information that’s feeding their curiosity.
- “I am confident in the safety of the food I eat.” Nearly half strongly agree, a big jump from the 35 percent seen the year before.
- “I trust food produced in the U.S. more than I trust food produced outside the U.S.” A significant majority, 59 percent, strongly agree. That’s up from 51 percent from the previous survey.
- “U.S. food is among the most affordable in the world today.” Forty-four percent strongly agree. This is the strongest level of agreement with this statement since it was first posed in 2007. Strong agreement rose 14 percent from the previous survey.
The numbers are promising, but it’s certainly not a green light for the industry to take its relationship with consumers for granted. There’s always room for improvement.
Our research shows – and Dr. Phil would likely agree – they expect and deserve transparency; they want the good, the bad and the ugly. They also want the ability to engage, to be heard and acknowledged, and get straight answers to their questions. And consumers want to know they can trust you – and earning trust starts with knowing that you share their values when it comes to important issues like food safety, health, animal well-being and the environment. The CCFI trust model demonstrates that communicating with shared values is three-to-five times more important to building trust than simply sharing facts and science.
Earning trust is a long-term commitment, but well worth the effort. You simply can’t have a meaningful relationship without it.
A summary of the research, “Inside the Minds of Influencers: The Truth About Trust,” is available for download here. The research identifies influential consumer groups and the motivations that not only dictate food trends, but drive conversations that impact the decisions of others as they make choices at the grocery store or form opinions about the products, processes, people and brands that define today’s food system.
Complete research results, which include in-depth insights, detailed audience segmentation and trust-building engagement strategies, are provided to CCFI members. To learn more about accessing the full research report, contact CCFI at firstname.lastname@example.org or (816) 556-3141.