Caterers and restaurants saw a significant boost to public trust in the past year because of the pandemic, according to a new survey of trust in the food industry funded by EIT Food.
The results of the EIT Food-funded Increasing consumer trust and support for the food supply chain and for food companies project show that trust in different actors in the food industry has increased due to COVID19 outbreak. EIT Food is an innovation community supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. The survey was carried out across six countries: UK, Spain, Italy, Finland, Poland, and Israel. The change was most pronounced for caterers and restaurants followed by food manufacturers. In the latest survey of UK consumers conducted in October 2021, caterers and restaurants improved their public trust scores to 4.74/7 from 4.48/7 in 2020.
The catering sector has been one of the most affected by COVID-19, with measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus meaning that outlets closed their doors to customers during national and local lockdowns. The resulting innovation, from takeaways and delivered food to street market food has enabled many businesses to continue to trade, and the researchers believe that this innovation has contributed significantly to increasing public trust.
Professor Richard Bennett, Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Reading who led the project, said: “Consumer trust in the food supply chain, as a result of people's experiences during COVID-19, has increased in 2021 especially in relation to trust in restaurants and caterers. Necessity is the mother of invention and we’ve certainly seen this be the case with the catering sector during the pandemic. Across the country, caterers went to extra efforts over the last year to provide food and drink to consumers in a COVID-safe way, and this has been much appreciated by consumers."
Alongside caterers, food manufacturers have also seen an increase in public trust scores for 2021, as the whole sector continues to improve their standing in consumers’ minds. In the UK, trust in farmers is the highest (5.12/7) followed by retailers (4.87/7), restaurants and caterers (4.74/7), food manufacturers (4.72/7) and authorities (4.33/7). This is largely in line with the 2020 survey which also found trust in farmers (5.15/7) to be the highest followed by retailers (4.6/7), restaurants (4.48/7), food manufacturers (4.45/7) and authorities (4.12/7).
On the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on trust in different actors by country, UK consumers said that the experience of COVID-19 increased trust mostly in farmers (4.79/7) followed by increased trust in retailers (4.55/7), food manufacturers (4.53/7) and restaurants and caterers (4.49/7). The 2020 survey also found trust in farmers (4.45/7) to have been impacted the most, followed by trust in retailers (4.18/7), with trust in restaurants (4.01/7) and food manufacturers (3.99/7) not changing.