Food safety concerns highlight potential for digital assurance
A survey of 4,500 consumers has revealed that most people would be willing to pay more for a food product if safety standards and certification were better communicated.
Consumers’ food safety concerns could indicate that there is a gap between perception and reality – with the possibility to be bridged using digital technologies – according to a survey by risk management and quality assurance insights firm DNV GL.
The survey asked 4,500 people about their food purchasing concerns, habits and priorities, revealing that food safety is the primary concern for consumers: 85 percent said they trust branded products, 80 percent non-packaged products and 69 percent packaged unbranded products.
Consumers primarily want more information on food safety (55 percent) and health (53 percent), according to the survey, but environment (38 percent) and social aspects (35 percent) were generally considered of less importance.
“Food safety is still top of the agenda for consumers. However, the survey results seem to indicate that while food and beverage manufacturers and retailers may have invested considerably in protecting consumers, they are not 100 percent convinced that all products are safe to consume,” said Joy Franks-Laing, Global Food & Beverage Manager in DNV GL – Business Assurance.
There were indications that digital solutions – such as QR codes that show the individual history of a product – may offer a means to build trust. Only 19 percent of consumers said they use QR codes on packaging regularly, but this would rise to 65 percent if it was perceived to offer insight into a product’s origin and verification of food safety standards being met.
If the product information is verified or if the product or manufacturer is certified to a food safety standard, 69 percent said they would be willing to pay more for the product, suggesting that there is a huge upside for the food industry in improving communication to consumers on food safety and other product characteristics.
“Access to product characteristics is instant through an engaging QR code label on the packaging, letting consumer explore proof of food safety, origin and authenticity, for example, taking the mystery out of the product’s history, building consumer trust and confidence on the spot,” noted Franks-Laing.