The EIT Food TrustTracker® is an evidenced-based questionnaire which has been developed to measuring consumer trust in the food industry and is an important first step towards understanding this gap. It will provide valuable insights which will be used to enhance consumer trust in the food value chain.
Introduction to the TrustTracker®
Consumer trust in the food system is complex because it involves many different actors: retailers, manufacturers, government authorities, and farmers all play a role.
The TrustTracker® maps European consumers’ trust in the food value chain and its different actors – from farm to fork to policy. Based on scientific insights, a model for measuring consumer trust has been developed. This evidence-based tool looks at differences within countries and by actor. The data is tracked annually to monitor developments and compare trust levels over time.
When trust is strong, we are able to get consumers on board with innovations and plant-based diets that can move the EU towards a healthier and more sustainable food system.
Our methodology is transparent and available to everyone.
Download our brochure here
EIT Food’s TrustTracker® has found that the openness of food system actors – their activities, the information they offer and their honesty – and their competence is of primary importance in establishing consumer trust. The perceived openness of food system actors, and especially of manufacturers, is most important in determining how confident consumers are in the integrity of the food supply and of the technologies used to produce it. Key findings from our first wave of data collection in 2018, in 5 EU countries (DE, ES, FR, PL, and UK), include the following. In 2019, the TrustTracker® will expand to 13 European countries.
- European consumers most trust farmers, followed by retailers.
- Spanish and British consumers display the highest levels of overall trust.
- German and French consumers have significantly lower levels of social trust towards others.
- European consumers are most confident in their food’s taste and safety (followed by healthiness, authenticity, and sustainability).
- British and Spanish consumers are most confident in food integrity (related to safety, health, sustainability, authenticity, and tastiness)
- European consumers are most confident in the taste and safety of food technologies (British and Spanish consumers are the most confident, overall, in food technologies.)
- European consumers are not particularly motivated towards innovativeness.
- European consumers are more motivated to eat sustainably than they are to eat healthily.
How it works
Each year, the TrustTracker® will build on the previous years’ data to track changes in EU consumers’ levels of trust in aspects of the food system. People who exhibit trust in the food value chain (and its actors) are more confident about food integrity and food technology integrity. Food integrity includes taste, safety, health, authenticity and sustainability. So far, no study has made such an explicit link between trust and its effects.
EIT Food partners University of Reading (project lead), the European Food Information Council (EUFIC), Aarhus University, KU Leuven, and University of Warsaw developed the model behind the TrustTracker® tool. This model is designed to measure consumer trust in the food system, determinants of trust, beliefs in the trustworthiness of food actors – in their care, competence and openness – and the effects of trust on consumer confidence in foods and food technologies.
The model looks at how determinants of trust lead to consumer trust in the food system (comprised of beliefs about trustworthiness and trust in the actors of the food system), and how this leads to confidence in food and technology integrity. Additionally, it suggests that trust influences the relationship between consumer motivations (e.g., living a healthy or sustainable lifestyle) and their intentions and behaviour.
Information from the TrustTracker® can be used by food producers, manufacturers, retailers, and policy makers to map and monitor European trust levels over time, to identify gaps in trust, and to understand how to improve the relationship with consumers. This can lead to a more trusted, reliable, and stronger food system. In the future, the TrustTracker® can be expanded to measure changes in trust in specific food sectors and brands and can look at how to repair trust that is lost.
Additionally, a series of focus groups in each country, called the Citizen Participation Forum, explore each year’s TrustTracker® survey results in more detail. Between 150-200 participants in each country are selected in a way that balances urban vs. rural and age ranges. This dialogue provides more in-depth detail behind why consumers respond the way they do in the survey in each country.
Project Leadership: Anna Macready, University of Reading
Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org