A new pan-European study, the EIT Food Trust Report, shows that less than half of consumers have confidence in the food sector, with just a third believing that the food they eat is sustainable. German consumers are less likely to trust food manufacturers and authorities than the European average, the study shows.
German consumers are more skeptical than the European average, with their trust in manufacturers and authorities calculated at 44% and 45%, respectively. 46% of the consumers surveyed in Germany and 47% of those questions throughout Europe say that they have confidence in the integrity of food products. The report shows that just 48% of consumers across Europe agree that they trust food manufacturers and authorities. Over a quarter actively mistrust them.
In addition, while European consumers generally think that manufacturers are competent (58% of consumers agree with this) and have the necessary skills (55%), only a third believe that they are sufficiently open (37%) or honest about their role in the food system (36%) – pointing to a lack of transparency as the root of this lack of trust.
The public shows more trust towards retailers, with over half (54%) of consumers reporting that they trust them in terms of their competency, openness and care. Trust in farmers, meanwhile, is the highest of any group in the food industry, with 67% of consumers expressing trust (61% in Germany).
Sustainable food choices
The European public is concerned about the environmental impact of the food system; as such, only a third (37%) believe that their food is sustainable. The report also reveals that 76% of Europeans say they are motivated to live a sustainable life. However, just half (51%) take sustainability into account when making food choices. This indicates that there is a gap between consumers wanting to make choices that protect the planet, and actually make impactful lifestyle changes – known as the ‘attitude-behavior gap’, the study’s authors highlight. In Germany, 6 in 10 consumers (61%) say they are already eating sustainably, indicating they are more likely to already be taking steps – or to believe they are doing so – to eat in a way that is better for the planet.
Innovation in foods is met with reluctance: only 37% of Europeans are open to adopting new foods, but the majority of Europeans are hesitant.
“As well as new innovations that help transform our food system, citizens need and want access to better and clearer information. There is a growing desire for simplicity and clarity, while the pandemic has led to many prioritising community values. In particular, consumers value transparency at every stage of the food chain, and the food sector must rise to meet this challenge.”
Saskia Nuijten, Director of Communication and Public Engagement, EIT Food
The EIT Food Trust Report surveyed 20,326 consumers from 18 European countries to measure trust in the food system and confidence in food products. EIT Food is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, and the study was conducted by a consortium of pan-European academic partners including the University of Reading, the European Food Information Council (EUFIC), Aarhus University, KU Leuven, and the University of Warsaw.