If we are to eat more healthily and sustainably, we have to be able to trust the food system. Reading consumer behaviour experts have worked with an EU body and the food industry to better understand people’s trust in farmers, manufacturers, retailers and the authorities, with the findings shaping international policy.

Trust plays a big part in people choosing healthier, more sustainable foods, research has shown – yet less than half of Europeans say they trust the food system.

Reading Consumer Behaviour expert Dr Anna Macready has developed TrustTracker®: an evidence-based model of what drives consumer trust in the food system. Working with EU knowledge innovation community EIT Food, TrustTracker® has generated over 81,000 surveys and is now part of its Consumer Observatory programme.

Openness and care are the most important qualities when it comes to trust in our food, findings show, and farmers are the supply chain’s most trusted people. Our trust in food has also increased over the past five years, according to annual surveys across 18 European countries and Canada.

Macready’s data has been seen by policy-makers and food industry representatives at key conferences and appears in EIT Food’s annual Trust Report, informing its trust-building activities. A successful PR campaign has reached 1.2 million readers.

What is more, the Reading team has advised seven food start-ups on consumer trust and launched a Top 50 Trusted Brands competition in Denmark to engage top brands and understand and boost trust. The OECD commissioned an extension of the annual survey to Canada in 2022, bringing the benefits of better trust in food systems to many more people worldwide.

“The EIT Food Trust Report shows that there are clear opportunities for the food industry to demonstrate how it is acting in the public interest and meet consumer demand regarding health and sustainability.” — Professor Klaus Grunert, Department of Management, Aarhus University

Judges' comment

“A novel and clearly effective large-scale project with demonstrable reach through media engagement, expansion to other countries around the world and integration into industry practice.”

Team: Anna Macready


  • Aarhus University
  • European Food Information Council
  • KU Leuven
  • University of Warsaw


  • EIT Food