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Brief: Covid-19 builds consumer trust in food system; sustainability skepticism remains – EIT Food

January 28, 2021

  • Consumer trust in the food system has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report from EU food innovation initiative EIT Food.
  • EIT Food’s study surveyed 19,800 consumers in 18 European countries across a variety of metrics like consumer trust and confidence in food products.
  • Farmers are the most trusted group in the food supply chain, while retailers saw a 7% boost in confidence levels compared to 2018 figures.
  • But the majority of consumers polled said they were concerned that the food industry is not working in the public interest. Only 30% expressed confidence that food products are sustainably sourced.

Why it matters:

Pre-pandemic, consumers bought roughly half their food at the supermarket and the other half through foodservice outlets. With shelter-in-place recommendations and limited capacity rules in restaurants, many consumers are relying on their own kitchens and cooking skills to keep themselves fed. This might partly explain why many are feeling a closer bond to the system that provides their food.

Consumers may also be enjoying a greater level of convenience and customization thanks to Covid-19, which has spurred the adoption of tech-based solutions that facilitate online ordering and delivery of groceries. 

Even before Covid-19, consumers were increasing demand for food produced sustainably – and most are willing to pay more for it. But one of their biggest frustrations is figuring out which products make the eco-friendly cut. Greenwashing, clever marketing, and label fatigue are adding to the chorus of an already noisy sector, according to EIT Food.

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