Maybe, just maybe, food safety messages are starting to sink in with consumers. A recent trend report seems to show that people are taking more ownership of their responsibilities when it comes to food safety and health.
According to the Food Marketing Institute’s “U.S Grocery Shopper Trends” report released earlier this week, when asked who is responsible for ensuring food safety, more than half (58 percent) of respondents say they are responsible for the safety of their food. That’s up a significant 7 points from 2010.
And more than 90 percent of shoppers agree “strongly” or “somewhat” with the statement that they trust their grocery stores to ensure the food they eat is safe and more than half of shoppers agree strongly.
Furthermore, consumers continue to be most comfortable with food grown in the United States versus imported products: 97 percent of shoppers are either “very” or “somewhat” comfortable with U.S. grown food.
FMI says the higher level of consumer trust in supermarkets to sell safe food resulted in fewer respondents who claim they stopped purchasing certain food items because of food safety concerns. Only 12 percent of shoppers say they no longer purchase an item because of food safety concerns.
Woo Hoo! Maybe we’re getting through to people that the U.S. food supply is safe and they can be confident U.S. agriculture is doing a good job.
Also quite intriguing is the fact that the vast majority (82 percent) of shoppers say they are responsible for ensuring that the food they eat is nutritious. This is in stark contrast to legislation that’s been bandied about regarding food nutritional content, as well as school board interventions regarding the availability of flavored milk in some education systems.
But, as is usually the case with surveys like this, there’s a flip–side. When respondents were asked where they believe the food safety breaches occur, more than half of shoppers named food processing and manufacturing plants. No mention of private kitchens as a source for food safety breaches, interestingly.
Thirty-five percent of respondents named manufacturers and processors as responsible for ensuring consumer food safety, followed by supermarkets and government agencies at 28 percent each.
All-in-all, not bad results. But, keep in mind that this is only a single survey and that we are one big food safety scare away from a very different picture. As FMI rightly notes, consumer confidence in food safety is greatly affected by recall activity.
The onus remains on us to continue to produce an abundant, safe, nutritious food supply — and to remain steadfast in our commitment to communicating that message whenever and wherever possible.