Study: Consumers Don't Trust Food Suppliers

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Study: Consumers Don't Trust Food Suppliers

By Alex Palmer - 06/24/2009
Food companies have their work cut out for them in regaining consumer trust, a new IBM survey shows. According to the company’s new Food Consumer Survey, less than 20 percent of adult grocery shoppers trust food suppliers to develop and sell food products that are safe and healthy. In addition, of the 1,000 shoppers surveyed, 60 percent report being concerned about the safety of the food they purchase.

This caution may be attributable to the high-profile food recalls of the past two years. Nearly half the respondents (49 percent) reported being less likely to purchase a food product following a recall, with 8 percent saying they would never purchase the food again. Additionally, 57 percent of consumers say they’ve stopped purchasing certain foods within the past two years, due to safety concerns.

While the survey was conducted prior to Nestle’s widely reported recall of Toll House cookie dough last week, a full 83 percent of respondents were able to name a food product that was recalled in the past two years because concerns over safety.

“The product recalls and contamination we’ve had, and the globalization of the food supply, really highlight how global and how fragmented our food supply has become,” said Guy Blissett, consumer products leader at the IBM Institute for Business Value in Armonk, N.Y.

He said concern about food safety is part of a larger desire from consumers for more information about the contents, origin and handling of the food they’re eating. “It’s no longer just about taste and value and how many raisins there are in the Raisin Bran. There’s a much broader set of information that consumers want in order to feel good about the products they are buying.”

While 63 percent of respondents report being knowledgeable about the contents of the food they buy, 77 percent said they would like more information on its content and 76 percent said that they would like more information about its origin.

Grocery shoppers’ desire for more information offers opportunities for food suppliers, said Bissett. “It creates a huge opportunity for the [consumer product] manufacturers to communicate and connect with consumers, and give them the information that they want.”