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Food industry well-respected for CSR efforts: Survey

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 31-Mar-2010
Last updated on 06-Apr-2010 at 09:27 GMT2010-04-06T09:27:24Z

The food industry is one of the most well-respected industries in terms of social responsibility, according to a new survey from research-based consultancy Penn Schoen Berland.

The second annual Corporate Social Responsibility Perceptions Survey, conducted in partnership with brand consulting firm Landor Associates and strategic communications firm Burson-Marsteller, interviewed a nationally representative online sample of 1001 US consumers about their attitudes to corporate social responsibility efforts across 14 different industries.

It found that the food industry, consumer goods and retailers were seen as performing the best, and 75 percent of those surveyed said they thought it was important to examine companies’ corporate social responsibility strategies.

In addition, while only 13 percent of respondents said they had read about individual companies’ CSR policies on their websites, 75 percent of those said that as a result, they were more likely to purchase that company’s products. And 72 percent of consumers said they would make some sacrifices in spending in order to support social responsibility.

Managing director for corporate responsibility at Burson-Marsteller Eric Biel said: “Companies need to combine strong social responsibility programs with effective communication of what they are doing. While many consumers may not be precise in how they define terms like ‘corporate social responsibility,’ they do have a clear sense of how they expect companies to behave. They expect companies to offer high-quality products at good prices and to explain how they treat their employees well, give back to their communities, and respect the environment. Those companies that can clearly articulate how they advance these values to consumers can achieve real benefits for their brands and their overall reputation.”

The results support those of a Mintel report released last week that showed consumers were more willing to part with their cash if they thought a product was produced with environmental responsibility in mind. The market research organization’s survey results showed that 35 percent of shoppers claimed they would pay more for ‘environmentally friendly’ products.

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