Consumer Trust in Food Production on the Rise

May 9, 2016 by Elizabeth Bechdol, Director of Agribusiness Strategies | Katie M. Glick, Agribusiness Strategy Manager
Today, there is significant controversy surrounding the growing, buying and eating of food as consumers want more information on how food gets to their tables.  For many in the food and agriculture industries, these changing consumer preferences and expectations have been challenging to react and respond to. 
Consumers want to trust that the food and agriculture industries have done all they can to make and source a quality product that is safe for them and their families.  According to a recent survey conducted by Sullivan Higdon & Sink, 65% percent of consumers are seeking more information about food production and its processes and practices.  That same survey also revealed that consumers' trust levels in food and agriculture have increased by 15 percentage points - from 19% in 2012 to 34% in 2016.
Consumers still put most of their trust around food information with their friends and family, but trust is growing for those in food and agriculture; 68% of consumers trust friends and family, 60% trust farmers and ranchers, and 54% trust the medical community.  Food and grocery retailers have started to gain consumer trust with a jump of 14 percentage points to 46%.  Food companies and manufacturers have had an increase of 17% in their trust levels which could be attributed to the consumer demands of transparency and product and ingredient changes.
There has been a 15% increase in the trust of bloggers regarding food production.  Many of today’s bloggers are women and moms who tend to make decisions around household food buying and meal planning.   
While trust in many groups has been on the rise, consumer trust in information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fell 7 percentage points to 50%. Trust in the U.S. Department of Agriculture also fell 7 points to 52%.  The survey designers attribute these trends to the declining lack of trust in government overall today. 
Even though trust in the food system has increased, there is still more information that consumers are seeking.  Food and agriculture businesses are working to deliver clear and concise information to consumers about where their food comes from and how it is produced.   This will admittedly be a balancing act as food and agriculture continues to rely on innovative science and technologies to provide safe, nutritious and sustainable food for the world.  Transparency with a prioritized message to targeted consumer groups will be extremely important for food and agriculture businesses to stay relevant and successful in today’s consumer-driven world.
For more information on the food and agribusiness strategies, contact Beth Bechdol and Katie Glick in Ice Miller’s Food and Agribusiness group.
This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.

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