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An EU study shows that trust is declining, but that confidence in safety is declining



An EU study shows that trust is declining, but that confidence in safety is declining

A survey of consumers in Europe and the United Kingdom has shown that confidence in the food sector has declined, but confidence in safety is high.

The Trust Report surveyed 19,642 people from 18 countries about their level of trust in the food system and found that less than half of consumers have confidence in food. The work was carried out by Ipsos in August and September 2023 and involved people in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the UK.

The last EIT Food Trust Reportnow in its sixth year, showed that 45 percent of Europeans have confidence in food, related to the taste, safety, health, authenticity and sustainability of the food system.

EIT Food is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union.

Support for security

The survey shows that consumers are especially confident that the food they eat is safe at 53 percent, while 42 percent believe food is authentic.

The research shows that consumers are not concerned about food safety in their daily purchases and are generally confident in the quality of food and the way it is controlled.

Durk Bosma, head of thought leadership at the Future of Food Institute, said these findings were expected and in line with previous years.

“There is another group that gives a neutral answer to the question about food safety. The group that considers food unsafe is 23 percent. And even for this group it does not lead to worries about daily purchases. We can interpret their answers as ‘not all food is safe’, not ‘all food is unsafe’.”

In terms of authenticity, 31 percent did not believe food was authentic and 26 percent were neutral.

The report suggests that people cannot determine authenticity themselves and must rely on other information, such as packaging and labels. Because this information and the parties providing it are not generally trusted, trust may be low.

A 2022 Eurobarometer on food safety in the EU found that almost half thought food safety was important and 41 percent took it for granted that the food they buy was safe.

A trust issue

The EIT Food survey showed a decline in consumer confidence in the food sector as a whole, in terms of the competence, openness and care of actors such as farmers, manufacturers, authorities, restaurants and retailers.

Farmers remain the most trusted group; 65 percent of consumers express confidence in them. This is a decrease compared to 67 percent last year.

Retailers are the second most trusted group: half of consumers say they trust this sector and restaurants and caterers score 48 percent.

Less than half of respondents trust food producers or authorities such as government agencies at national and EU level, while 27 percent and 32 percent actively distrust them respectively.

Consumers generally trust that European manufacturers bring safe food to the market and that the EU has strict rules that producers must follow. People understand that authorities have the ultimate responsibility for whether food is safe.

The 2022 Eurobarometer survey found that eight in ten scientists trust food safety information, while trust in national and EU institutions was around two-thirds.

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