Food safety a major concern for consumers, survey findings

7th ottobre 2015

Last week, a former CEO of a peanut manufacturer received a 28-year sentence for a food poisoning outbreak in 2008. The sad truth is that food poisoning and outbreaks continue to impact the food industry. In fact, food recalls have nearly doubled in the United States since 2002, according to a report by reinsurance company Swiss Re. These recalls are in the news almost daily, making food safety top of mind for consumers.

To learn a little more about how the food recalls are affecting consumer opinions, Trace One recently surveyed consumers from nine countries around the world. Respondents were asked about their trust in the quality and safety of the food they consume and there are a few major lessons to be learned from the results:

Consumer trust is a serious concern.

It is clear that the growing number of food recalls have made consumers question the quality and safety of the food products that they buy. According to the survey, only 12 percent of consumers wholeheartedly trust the safety of the food they consume, and only 10 percent wholeheartedly trust the quality of their food. As a result of this lack of trust, consumers are demanding more information about where food comes from.

Information is important to consumers.

Trace One’s survey found that a majority of consumers want to know where their food comes from (91 percent), but only 15 percent consider themselves to be very knowledgeable about where their food comes from. In fact, nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of consumers do not think that they are provided with enough information about what is in their food and where it came from, and over one-third of global consumers do not think food retailers and manufacturers communicate quickly enough or provide timely information during health scares. Consumers want to know about the food they are eating, but it is evident that this information is not readily available. In fact, 40 percent of consumers would be willing to pay more for a food product with more ingredient and allergen information. Retailers will need to be more transparent by making product and ingredient information easy to find and understand.

Consumers hold retailers and manufacturers accountable.

Another important reminder is that regardless of the party responsible for the food crisis, the public will blame the brand for the crisis. What’s more, Trace One’s survey found that 84 percent of global consumers say food retailers or manufacturers are most responsible for Private Brand quality and safety. Since the retailer and the manufacturer are often one in the same for Private Brand products, retailers need to be especially cognizant the food manufacturing process to ensure that the products they sell are safe.

While it would be ideal to avoid a recall altogether, they are often unavoidable. Private Brand retailers need to focus on taking steps to minimize the impact of the recall on consumers by providing information about the affected products in a timely manner. In the same global survey, more than one-third of respondents feel that food retailers and manufacturers don’t act quickly enough to food scares.

For Private Brands to truly gain consumer trust, retailers need to go a step further and supply product information at all times, not just in the event of a crisis. And when retailers are fully transparent to consumers about what is in their products and where those ingredients come from, they will see tremendous growth in consumer trust.

Technology as a boon for consumer trust

In a consumer environment that demands greater food health and safety, the need for technology that supports those demands is critical. Supply chain collaboration, communication, and transparency are pivotal components to Private Brand food safety and consumer loyalty. With much of today’s food that is consumed by the public, multiple ingredients, countries of origin, and processing methods are used to deliver one product in the marketplace. One disruption or contamination, can set off a costly domino effect of damage to the public. Supply chains are more complex than ever – and the consumer is savvy to this evolution. As a result, those retailers who have the greatest awareness throughout all levels of their supply chain (and not just the top two tiers), those who can isolate problems the quickest, and those who can respond and repair the problems the fastest- are those retailers who can succeed in meeting the expectations of their consumers, and earning the greatest amount of trust and market share.

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