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Business Assurance - Viewpoint

What matters to consumers when buying food & beverage products?

Overall story

Food safety is clearly the primary concern for consumers, and they tend to trust brands to provide it. Results show that respondents have a higher trust in packaged products from brands (85%) than non-packaged products (80%) or packaged unbranded products (69%). The trust in brands to provide safe food is common across geographies, while there are greater variations for non-packaged products (loose food) and packaged unbranded products.

When asked about the topics for which they would like more information, consumers are most interested in food safety (55%) and health (53%). Broader sustainability issues, such as environment (38%) and social (35%) aspects are lower on their list of priorities. The primary focus seems to be on what impacts them directly as individuals. When asked about top priorities across all categories, health-related issues stand out. Product content and ingredients’ origin top the list, followed by proper hygiene to prevent contamination and food safety from farm to fork. In addition, sustainable packaging and food waste are high on the agenda.

The product itself is consumers’ primary source of information. They look to labels, QR-codes or text written on the product (49%). Again, the trust in brands is apparent. A total of 90% trust the information brands provide on packaged products, while only 64% trust the information related to packaged unbranded products. When information is verified by a third party or food quality or safety certification, it adds a value. There is a general willingness to pay more (68%) for such assurance, and this inclination is even higher for millennials (79%). However, there seems to be an opportunity in more clearly communicating such verification and certification efforts and what’s behind them.

QR-codes are not that widely used by consumers to access more information (19% regularly use them). However, in areas where distrust in food safety is higher and seen more as an individual rather than company responsibility, QR-codes are much more widely used. Moreover, if QR-codes gave access to detailed information on a product’s content and authenticity, more consumers would be more inclined to use them (65%). This indicates that there is a huge potential for companies to differentiate if they are able to engage with consumers directly.