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Just Half of British Consumers Trust the Food Industry to Provide Safe Food

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Just Half of British Consumers Trust the Food Industry to Provide Safe Food

Just Half of British Consumers Trust the Food Industry to Provide Safe Food
July 03
13:19 2013

Six months on from the horse meat scandal, British consumers remain highly sceptical about the efficiency of the British food industry. Indeed, new research from Mintel reveals a startling lack of confidence among British consumers in the UK food industry’s ability to provide food that is safe to eat.

Exclusive research looking at attitudes towards trust in food finds just half (49%) of all British consumers trust the food industry to provide safe food to eat, with almost two fifths (37%) undecided. What is more, only 42% of all Brits believe the food industry is able to effectively react to food scares (such as BSE and horse meat) while just 23% of the nation agree that the different elements of the supply chain work effectively together.

Consumer concerns about food safety appear to relate to the industry’s lack of awareness of their supply chains. Just 36% of consumers feel that food manufacturers are aware of where their ingredients originate from, with around the same number (34%) disagreeing. Furthermore, a large minority (37%) of Brits disagree that supermarkets are aware of where their ingredients originate from. Today, just 23% of the nation agrees that the different elements of the supply chain work effectively together.

Alex Beckett, Senior Food Analyst at Mintel, comments: “That food should not be harmful should be one of the most basic of consumer expectations, yet only half of adults feel the UK food industry provides food that is safe to eat, signalling a widespread breakdown of trust in the agri-food chain, and suggesting the need for more active communications and greater transparency towards consumers. The fact that just 36% of consumers believe manufacturers know where their ingredients originate highlights just how long and convoluted modern food supply chains can be. The food industry looks set to face much work to regain consumer trust.”

Nearly eight in ten (77%) adults consider the food industry to be too reliant on mass manufacturing, with agreement broadly rising with age (70% of 16-24 year olds compared to 84% of 55-64 year olds). The findings also illustrate how labelling concerns echo consumer misgivings about the operators’ inability to control their supply chains. Only two fifths (40%) of adults trust supermarkets and food manufacturers to provide accurate labelling on food packaging.

Meanwhile, men (45%) are considerably more likely than women (36%) to be positive about the accuracy of on-pack information. This is in line with men being the more likely to agree that the food industry provides food that is safe (men 53% vs women 46%) and also that supermarkets are aware of the origin of their ingredients (men 35% vs women 29%) .

“The grocers and manufacturers have typically not drawn attention to suppliers of own-brand products, but providing these details on-pack could help to support consumer trust in the grocers’ sourcing,” Alex Beckett continues.

In terms of food safety, the British public consider the government (38%) and food manufacturers (39%) to have around the same level of responsibility in providing food that is safe to eat. Affordability is largely the responsibility of supermarkets (62%), together with the need to source food from the UK as much as possible (37%).

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