Do consumers trust in food?
Consumer’s trust in food has been decreasing. A large part of consumers is very critical about the food they buy. These consumers utilize a wider range of criteria for evaluating products. The choice is made, based on the healthiness, sustainability, price, packaging, and availability of the food. Personal habits also play a significant role in consumer buying behavior for food products. In addition age, sex and socioeconomic status continue to affect food choices significantly.
The biggest concerns are related to the things in food that are not perceivable by the senses. Consumers are worried about food additives, toxic and unhealthy compounds, preservatives and food processing. It’s easy to say when food has gone bad, but there is no way telling what toxics there are. Therefore, consumers need to rely on other information they have on the product.
In additional to package texts, consumers find information about food from the internet, and social media and many beliefs, whether right or wrong, about food, originate from there. The more steps there are in the manufacturing process, the more complicated it’s for the consumer to really know how their food is produced. Thus, for example, local food gets most easily consumer’s trust.
How does trust build?
Consumer trust in food can be built in a few different ways:
1. Through personal contact with the producer
2. Through institutional regulation
3. With the help of private or non-profit certification schemes
4. By receiving information about product provenance and quality from the food manufacturer
The trust forms in the interaction between parties, consumer and producer in the case of food. Yet direct personal relationships between food producers and consumers are relatively rare nowadays. Industrialization, busy lifestyle and requirements for convenience have led to the rise of supermarkets and ready-made meals. Most of the consumers don’t want to make an extra effort when buying their everyday groceries. Supermarkets are, in addition to convenience, also much more cost-effective and thus can provide food at a very affordable price.
What can food manufacturers do to reinforce trust?
To gain consumer trust, food manufacturers have to communicate their production processes and ingredient sources to consumers. The traceability of food builds consumer trust and is also partly legally binding in the food industry. In case of infection, the cause of the problem must be quickly resolved, so producers and retailers need to know the steps in the production and logistics as well as the origin of the food. Fast traceability improves food security and reduces food waste significantly.
The communication of manufacturing processes and ingredient sources can be done in many ways, but one of the most cost-effective and time-saving ways is to make the production process transparent. Food discussion can be heated very quickly in social media which requires lots of company’s resources. These crises can be mitigated with transparent production processes and open communication. The communication can be completely automated with the help of technologies like blockchain and IoT and integrated into the company’s current information systems.
Most food manufacturers have high production and sourcing standards, but these standards are mainly invisible to the consumer. Why make good things in the background and not let end-consumers know about them? Product’s value increases if the information is readily available to the consumer and the company earns profit for their carefully planned processes. In contrast, if the consumer doesn’t know what is going on behind the scenes, this not only ruins the basis for trust but also puts the company on the same line with its competitors.
Our solution for supply chain transparency: Empirica Trustor – Adding value to your product and brand.