The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) tracks customer evaluations of goods and services across the United States, examining levels of satisfaction in 45 different industries. Customer satisfaction with food companies has provided a positive note to the index over the past three years, bucking the general trend of satisfaction decline across industries.
The index overall fell by 0.3 percent during Q3, to 75.7 on a 0-100 scale. Meanwhile, satisfaction with food companies fell by 2.4 percent to an index of 81.
The biggest fall in confidence for the food industry was for the fresh and frozen meat company Tyson, which saw a fall of six percent to 77, to the bottom of the industry, “an all-time low and well below other food companies.”
“Customers are complaining about quality and a recall of deli meats probably hasn’t helped either,” according to Claes Fornell, professor of business administration at the University of Michigan.
In late August, the Tyson-owned company Zemco Industries recalled 380,000 pounds of deli meats distributed nationwide to Wal-Mart stores after a sample tested positive for listeria.
Satisfaction with nine of the 13 largest manufacturers declined during the quarter, the index found.
“Rising food prices seem to be the culprit, but some slippage in quality is also to blame,” said Fornell.
The Kellogg Company also fell sharply, by five percent, to the industry average of 81; Hershey and Quaker both fell one percent to 86; and Heinz retained its top position in the industry despite seeing satisfaction decline one percent to 88. Heinz has remained the number one food company for customer satisfaction for over a decade, according to the index.
“In fact, because customer satisfaction declined more for other companies, the ketchup maker’s competitive position has actually strengthened,” said Fornell in an accompanying commentary.