Food makers expected to deliver on health but trust lacking, survey finds

©iStock

Nine-in-ten consumers believe the food industry has a responsibility to provide them with a healthy diet but consumers are also mistrustful of the sector as a source of nutritional information, a new study reveals.

According to a global online survey commissioned by PR-specialists Ingredient Communications, 52% of respondents said the food sector had “a lot” and a further 37% said food makers had “some” responsibility for ensuring their diets were healthy. Only 9% of consumers globally thought food and drink companies had no responsibility at all.

In Europe, 84% of those surveyed believed food companies have some degree of responsibility for ensuring they have a healthy diet.

Credibility queried

While consumers believe the food industry bears at least some responsibility for their diets, respondents also revealed a high level of mistrust towards food businesses.

Overall, it emerged that the food sector is not widely viewed as a credible disseminator of nutrition insight. When presented with a list of ten sources – from health care professionals to celebrities – 41% of respondents ranked food companies as among the least trustworthy information sources. Only 5% ranked food businesses as most trustworthy.

European consumers are the most likely to trust governments or other public bodies as a source of information about nutrition and healthy eating. Globally, doctors and healthcare professionals are the most trusted.

Bridging the trust gap

Food companies, whose motives can be viewed with cynicism and whose trust levels have been sapped by food safety scares, need to work to regain consumer trust. But this process isn’t straightforward, Richard Clarke, director of Ingredient Communications, told FoodNavigator.

“Transparency and honesty are key,” he suggested. In particular, food makers can capitalise on growing consumer awareness of nutrition issues by responding to trends such as mounting pressure for provenance and so-called ‘clean labels’.

“Increasingly consumers want to know the details of everything that’s in their favourite products and companies that can tell a convincing story about the provenance of ingredients will be rewarded. Often the healthiest ingredients are natural ones that consumers recognise, so a commitment to nutrition and clean and clear labelling go hand in hand,” Clarke suggested.

Beyond the ingredients list, food companies can also boost their profile by becoming involved in multi-stakeholder healthy eating campaigns, he continued. “Companies can also benefit from developing innovative new ways to demonstrate their commitment to their customers’ health. Increasingly we’re seeing brands working with stakeholders on healthy eating campaigns, for example.”

Clarke believes that the road to gaining consumer trust is a long one that requires food makers to be transparent about their efforts to deliver on health and wellness. “Things won’t change overnight, but companies that are genuinely committed to their customers’ health – and prepared to be open and honest – will eventually build trust.”

Related News

Professor Walker: better industry communication required a collaborative approach

Food firms need to show honesty: research boss

© iStock/AnaMariaTegzes

Does Europe need a legal definition of natural food?

© iStock/Thinglass

Brands go for ethical certification to protect reputation, not maximise profits

The BSE scandal, the avian flu, and the recent horsemeat scandal has emphasised the importance of full traceability of the meat supply chain. ©iStock/

Supply chain performance not profitability at heart of food firms’ voluntary sign-up

There should also be restrictions on the marketing of junk food and sweet beverages to children, EUPHA said. ©iStock

Healthy eating policies ignore sustainability of food

©iStock

Row over UK front-of-pack labelling intensifies

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.