CFI urges industry engagement but says there is ‘no silver bullet’ to gain consumer trust

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Agriculture Nutrition Food

CFI urges industry engagement but says there is ‘no silver bullet’ to gain consumer trust
There is “no silver bullet” to reverse the growing trend of alienation from today’s farms, according to the Center for Food Integrity (CFI), a non-profit industry-backed group that aims to ease consumer fears about the US food supply.

In its latest consumer trust survey​, the organization said that communicating shared values to consumers was crucial to gaining support on a number of issues, and the food industry needed to align its practices with consumer expectations to gain trust.

“Effectively communicating shared values is the initial threshold to building support and trust,” ​CFI said. “Until we cross that threshold other information has limited effectiveness. Programs which break down the barriers between food system stakeholders and consumers will contribute to the perception of shared values, which in turn will build confidence and trust.”

In particular, the organization’s survey this year examined levels of trust in US farms and attitudes toward US farming practices. It found that consumers were much more likely to trust family-run farms to provide safe, affordable and nutritious food – and to put those attributes ahead of profitability.

“Not surprisingly consumers ranked safe, affordable and nutritious food as their top priorities, and farm profitability and productivity at the bottom,”​ it said.

Charlie Arnot, CEO of CFI said: "Agriculture needs to find messages that deliver a direct benefit to consumers or society to build support for today’s farming practices.”


The organization also found that many consumers do not believe that American food is among the most affordable in the world. According to USDA figures, US household expenditure on food as a share of disposable income hit an all-time low in 2010, falling to just 9.4%. This is down from 11.4% in 1990 and 13.2% in 1980.

“There is clear opportunity to engage with consumers on this issue,”​ CFI said. “…Our 2011 research shows an increase in consumer concern about food prices. Fifty-three percent of the survey participants strongly agreed that food prices are a greater concern to them now than a year ago. Given the media attention on rising food costs, the results are not a surprise.”

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