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Perspectives: The top 10 findings on consumer attitudes

February 15, 2018
By The Center for food integrity

Photo: Fotolia

What’s on consumer’s minds? Each year, the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) conducts trust research to take a deeper dive into what’s important to today’s consumer. It gives us crucial insights into how to continue to earn trust in food and agriculture on issues that matter most.

As we celebrate our 10-year anniversary, we bring you the top 10 findings on consumer attitudes from the latest research.

  1. Healthy, affordable is top of mind. Ranking 19 general life issues including healthcare, energy costs and the U.S. economy, six of the nine most concerning life issues are food-system related. The top concern at 71 per cent is rising healthcare costs, followed by keeping healthy food affordable at 69 per cent.
  2. Websites are their #1 source. It’s no surprise that 17 per cent ranked websites as their number one source for food system information. That figure increases to 27 per cent when Google is factored in. “Friends not online,” also at 17 per cent, speaks to the influence of peers.
  3. They feel more empowered. Forty per cent believe they have access to all of the information they need about where food comes from, how it’s produced and its safety. That’s up from just 17 per cent in 2008 – a significant and meaningful shift.
  4. “Family” is trusted. When asked to independently rate their level of trust on food-related issues from a list of 15 sources, family doctor and family came in first and second, respectively. Not far behind, and with very similar ratings, were university scientists, dietitians, friends, nutrition advocacy groups and farmers.
  5. Curiosity about agriculture is high.   When it comes to overall impressions of agriculture, nearly 70 per cent have a somewhat or very positive view about agriculture and 80 per cent expressed a strong desire to learn more about how food is produced and where it comes from. It represents a great opportunity to engage to earn trust.
  6. Confidence in food safety jumps.  Nearly half strongly agree with this statement: “I am confident in the safety of the food I eat.” That’s a big jump from 35 per cent in the previous year’s research. Since it was first measured in 2007, we continue to see an upward trend.
  7. Trust grows for government food agencies.  Thirty-eight per cent strongly agree with the statement: “Government food agencies are doing a good job of ensuring the safety of the food we eat.” This is up considerably from 24 per cent in the previous year’s research.
  8. Skepticism underscores humane animal treatment.   While 61 per cent strongly agree with the statement “If farm animals are treated humanely, I have no problem consuming meat, milk and eggs,” only 38 per cent strongly agree that U.S. meat is derived from humanely treated animals. That points to an opportunity for agriculture to increase engagement and bridge the gap.
  9. They’re not sure farmers are doing enough. For the first time, respondents were asked to rate their level of agreement with the following statement: “Do U.S. farmers take good care of the environment?” While 42 per cent strongly agree, more than half – 51 per cent – are ambivalent. They’re just not sure farmers are doing enough.
  10. The food system is headed in the right direction.  The research shows a fairly significant upward trend in the number of consumers who feel the food system is headed in the right direction – 55 per cent, compared to 40 per cent in the previous year’s research. Only 22 per cent say it’s headed down the wrong track and 23 per cent are unsure.

We see consumer confidence growing in some areas and uncertainty in others. Regardless, there’s always work to do when it comes to earning trust in how food is produced, who’s producing it and how it impacts health and our environment. The key is an ongoing commitment to engage with authentic transparency – connecting with consumers on the values we all share for safe, wholesome food, and the highest standards of care for animals, our communities and the planet.


To learn more, visit to download the latest research, Inside the Minds of Influencers: The Truth About Trust.