Food safety is the main area of concern for consumers, according to a survey by DNV GL.

A total of 4,500 people were asked about food purchasing habits and results indicated the primary focus was on what impacts consumers directly as individuals.

Half of consumers were interested in more information on food safety and health. Broader sustainability issues, such as environment and social aspects are lower on the list of priorities.

People would welcome more information and transparency on product content and on how food safety is secured from farm to fork. This is followed by hygiene practices adopted to prevent contamination and allergens or potentially dangerous ingredients. Sustainable packaging and food waste also ranked high in the survey that found geographical differences influenced by local legislation, context or recent scandals.

Room for improvement
Almost half said they took food safety for granted to a “large extent” for packaged food, while around a third did this for loose and unbranded packaged food.

DNV GL is a certification body that operates in more than 100 countries. The survey involved 4,500 consumers in March 2020 across 15 countries in Europe, North America, South America and Asia.

Respondents have full or somewhat trust in packaged products from brands at 85 percent, which is more than non-packaged (loose) items at 80 percent or packaged unbranded ones with 69 percent. However, less than half trust brands fully.

A total of 90 percent trust the information brands provide on packaged products, while only 64 percent trust data related to packaged unbranded products.

Joy Franks-Laing, global food and beverage manager at DNV GL-Business Assurance, said food safety is still top of the agenda for consumers.

“However, the survey results seem to indicate that while food and beverage manufacturers and retailers may have invested considerably in protecting consumers, they are not 100 percent convinced that all products are safe to consume.”

Technology and brand story
Only a fifth of consumers surveyed regularly use QR-codes to access more information. However, in areas where distrust in food safety is higher and seen more as an individual rather than company responsibility, QR-codes are more widely used. If they gave access to detailed information on a product’s content and authenticity, two thirds of consumers would be more inclined to use them.

The survey found consumers are willing to pay more for products they trust. If information is verified or the product or manufacturer is certified to a food safety standard, 69 percent are willing to do this. Countries where food safety is of higher concern tend to be more willing to pay extra for verified information or product certification.

European respondents tend to trust food manufacturers and providers more than consumers in other geographies and are less active in seeking product information. In Asia, more would welcome information about food safety and on health issues. Southeast Asia and countries in South Europe pay higher attention to social issues such as healthy working conditions.

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