Produce processing news: increased food safety concerns among consumers

According to Deloitte’s 2011 Consumer Food and Product Insights Survey, produce processing facilities are facing the same public relations challenges as the rest of the food processing industry: rising consumer concerns about food pathogens and other dangers in the foods they buy.

The survey suggests that Americans’ historical trust of the government’s regulatory oversight has declined. This is probably due in part to the easy availability of new, online information sources. Consumers are relying less on government and corporate sources for their information about food safety, and actively seeking information from alternative sources. Combine this with the proliferation of broadcast media stories about food product recalls in recent years, and the net effect is one of decreased trust in food safety. Here are a few statistics from the survey:

  • 73 percent of respondents reported being more concerned now than five years ago about the safety of their food.
  • 47 percent perceived that the number of food recalls had increased during 2010, compared to 41 percent who were asked the same question in 2010 about 2009 recalls.
  • 23 percent were concerned about contracting illness from foodborne pathogens, compared to 16 percent the previous year.

Respondents also voiced a desire for greater transparency concerning food safety, with 59 percent saying they would pay “somewhat more” for fresh fruits and vegetables that carry traceability information.

The survey was commissioned by Deloitte and conducted online by an undisclosed, independent research company between March 1st and March 3rd, 2011. It polled a national cross section of 1,050 consumers.

Download the Survey Executive Summary here.

Download the full survey here.