Consumer Trust In Food Systems Declining, Report Finds

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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Consumer Trust In Food Systems Declining, Report Finds

Less than half of European consumers (45%) have trust in current food systems, a new study by EIT Food Consumer Observatory has found.

The EIT Food Trust Report 2023 explores the level to which consumers are making sustainable and healthy food choices, and the role of trust in the food chain. It suggests that the food sector needs to operate with 'honesty, transparency and openness' in order to build public trust and accelerate consumption of healthier, more sustainable foods.

According to the study, 71% of European consumers state that they actively seeking to live sustainably, which is down from 78% in 2020.

Allied to this, just under half (49%) of consumers say that they take environmental impact into account when choosing what to eat. This compares to 51% in 2020 and 2021, and 48% in 2022.

Some 56% of consumers say that they try to eat healthily when they can, compared to 60% that answered likewise in 2020 and 2021.


Food Innovation

When it comes to embracing food innovation, over two fifths (44%) of consumers are conservative in their food choices, with 34% saying that they are open to trying new food products. Younger consumers appear more wiling to try new foods, with 44% of 18–34 year olds reporting they are open to new food products, compared to just over a quarter (24%) in the 55+ age group.

Overall, trust  in actors within the food sector  is currently low,  and has been declining in recent years, EIT Food's study found.

In terms of trust levels, farmers remain the most trusted group in the food sector, with 65% expressing trust in this sector (down from 67% the previous year), followed by retailers (50% in 2023, down from 52% the previous year) and restaurants and caterers (48%, down from 49%).

'Unprecedented Challenges'

“The food sector has faced unprecedented challenges in recent years, and will continue to do so as climate change takes its toll on food production," commented Sofia Kuhn, director of public insights and engagement at EIT Food.


"Now, more than ever, we need partnership between the food sector and Europe’s citizens if we are to create a healthier and more sustainable food system for everyone. To achieve this, we need to understand and work with consumers to foster trust and engagement in embracing food innovations and making conscious choices about what to eat.”

The study, which is now in its sixth year, surveyed 19,642 consumers across 18 countries. The full report can be found here.

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