Consumer concern over food safety highlights potential for digital assurance

Food Safety is main consumer concern

A recent study of consumers’ food safety concerns shows that there is a gap between consumers perceived food safety and the reality of food safety.

It has been shown that companies who can demonstrate that they take food safety seriously can close the trust gap.

The survey highlights:

  • Food safety is the primary concern for consumers: 85% trust branded products, 80% non-packaged products and 69% packaged unbranded products.
  • Consumers primarily want more information on food safety (55%) and health (53%).
  • Trust in information from brands is high:  90% trust packaged branded products, while only 64% trust unbranded products.

Consumers are significantly more concerned about food safety than environmental considerations, according to DNV GL’s ViewPoint survey.  A total of 4,500 consumers from across the globe were asked about their food purchasing habits and the results indicate a strong preference for factors impacting the individual consumer.  Food safety (55% of respondents) and health issues (53%) were regarded as more important than wider external factors, such as environment (38%) and social aspects (35%).

Wider issues such as the environment or social aspects, with the exception of waste and recycling, tend to be of less interest when consumers decide what to buy. While there are geographical differences, often influenced by local legislation, context or recent scandals, there seems to be less interest in issues such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions (10%), human rights (13%) and animal welfare (16%), for example.

“Food safety is still top of the agenda for consumers. However, the survey results seem to indicate that while food & beverage manufacturers and retailers may have invested considerably in protecting consumers, they are not 100% convinced that all products are safe to consume,” says Joy Franks-Laing, Global Food & Beverage Manager in DNV GL – Business Assurance.

The survey highlighted a clear trust gap; unbranded packaged food (69%) did not carry the same weight of trust as branded goods (85%).  However, there were indications that digital solutions may offer a means to build trust.

Consumers are even willing to pay more for products that they trust. If the product information is verified or if the product or manufacturer is certified to a food safety standard, 69% are willing to pay more. Food safety certification is quite common at the manufacturer level. The survey suggests that there is a huge upside for the food industry in improving communication to consumers on food safety and other product characteristics.

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