The effects of the pandemic continue to have an impact on our lives. Some of these consequences are more visible, such as the acceleration of labour policies in terms of telecommuting, but there are also negative ones, such as the health situation or the remaining side effects from the disease.
However, there are other consequences that are still somewhat difficult to assess but are nonetheless important. One of these is the impact of CVID-19 on consumers’ trust in the food system.
Trust in the food chain is a complex issue, as it involves different actors such as retailers, manufacturers, government authorities, and farmers, but it is nevertheless key to building and maintaining a strong food system. Moreover, when trust is strong, we can get consumers on board with innovations and more diverse diets (with a greater weight of plant-based options) that can move the EU towards a healthier and more sustainable food system.
This is why EIT Food launched the TrustTracker® initiative five years ago.
TrustTracker®, the European tool that tracks trust in the food value chain
TrustTracker®, developed by EIT Food and led by the University of Reading, has been mapping European consumers’ trust in the food value chain and its different actors, from farm to fork to policy, since 2018. Based on scientific knowledge, a model has been developed to measure consumer trust. This tool, based on empirical data, examines differences between countries and between actors. The data is analysed annually to track developments and compare trust levels over time, using a transparent and publicly available methodology.
What has been discovered
According to TrustTracker® data, for European consumers, the openness of actors in the food system – their activities, the information they provide and their honesty – as well as their perceived competence, are of paramount importance in establishing and maintaining trust.
Some key aspects:
- Finnish and Spanish consumers were among the top three countries with the highest levels of trust in food actors in all five years.
- French, German, and Belgian consumers showed significantly lower levels of trust towards others in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, 2021, and 2022 Czechs and Turks are among the consumers with the lowest levels of social trust.
- European consumers are most confident in their food’s taste and safety (followed by healthiness, authenticity, and sustainability).
- Similarly, European consumers are also most confident that food technologies help produce safe and tasty foods.
How has the pandemic affected trust in the food system?
TrustTracker® has shown that the age factor is highly relevant in this respect. Thus, while all age groups are more likely to see trust decrease than increase, older age groups are the most likely to report no change in trust.
The most distrustful are the younger age groups, but here, too, there are geographical differences.
For example, the 35-44 age group is less likely to report a loss of trust in Poland, but more likely in Spain.
The main results of the latest survey are available here.