Less than half of consumers trust food manufacturers

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Less than half of consumers trust manufacturers, according to EIT Food
Less than half of consumers trust manufacturers, according to EIT Food

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Consumer trust in the food system has dropped, with less than half of shoppers trusting food manufacturers over a perceived lack of competency and openness, according to EIT Food.

In a study of 19,642 consumers across 18 European countries, less than half (46%) said they trusted food manufacturers in terms of competency and openness – down from 48% in 2021 – while 27% said they actively mistrusted them.

What’s more, only four in 10 (38%) of consumers believed that food manufacturers cared about people’s concerns, while just 37% felt that they were open and honest about how they prepared and sold food. 

This level of mistrust extended to government agencies at national and EU level, with only 45% of respondents admitting to trusting authorities. A further 32% said they actively mistrusted authorities.

Lack of trust

Just over a third (38%) believed that authorities cared about and listened to what ordinary people thought about food (38%), or that they were sufficiently open about how they regulated food production (37%). 

 Sofia Kuhn, director of public insights and engagement at EIT Food, said: “The food sector has faced unprecedented challenges in recent years, and will continue to do so as climate change takes its toll on food production.

“Now, more than ever, we need partnership between the food sector and Europe’s citizens if we are to create a healthier and more sustainable food system for everyone. To achieve this, we need to understand and work with consumers to foster trust and engagement in embracing food innovations and making conscious choices about what to eat.” 

The EIT Food survey also found that less than half (45%) of Europeans said that they have trust in food, related to the taste, safety, health, authenticity and sustainability of our food system. 

Safety and sustainability

While consumers were mostly confident that the food they ate was safe (53%), they were more sceptical about its sustainability and healthiness. Only a third (36%) of consumers believed that the food they ate was sustainable, while less than half (44%) believed it is healthy. 

Commenting on the research, Klaus G. Grunert, professor of marketing at Aarhus University and lead of the Consumer Observatory, added: “Consumers need to be able to trust that the food they eat is both good for them, and good for the planet.

“If we are to support people to make long-term changes to how they eat, we need the food sector to work with consumers to provide better information, options and access for diets that are healthy, nutritious and sustainable – while being affordable and inclusive for everyone.”   

Meanwhile, in March, several figures from throughout the British food supply chain met in Hertfordshire to discuss how public sector providers can better work together with farmers and food producers.

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