U.S. Food Companies Need to Rebuild Trust

U.S. Food Companies Need to Rebuild Trust

Food & Drink

U.S. Food Companies Need to Rebuild Trust

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By Cari Martens

Rebuilding trust is seen as the critical issue of 2009 by market research firm Mintel, particularly in America – where recent food scares have once again damaged consumer confidence.

‘In the first two months of 2009, we’ve already seen the dire need to rebuild trust in America,’ Joan Holleran, Director of Research at Mintel, explained. ‘From government changes to food safety to struggling financial institutions, the American public’s trust has been broken repeatedly in recent months. Rebuilding this trust is crucial for business success, consumer confidence and overall economic recovery.’

Holleran says institutions will need to work much harder to gain people’s trust this year. Consumers have already curbed their spending because of the recession. ‘Companies need to develop trusting, honest relationships so they can get shoppers’ precious dollars,’ she advised.

In November 2008, Mintel listed ‘Rebuilding Trust’ as a key trend for 2009. Now as the year starts to unfold, the market research leader identifies different areas where trust-building will be crucial, including:

Food Safety: The recent peanut butter safety scare has made many people wary of even the most common food products. Even foods that were traditionally viewed as ‘safe,’ such as organic and kosher, are going to be viewed with new skepticism, says Mintel. While Mintel research shows 34% of kosher food buyers purchase for food safety reasons, the recent downfalls of kosher processors Agriprocessors and Peanut Corporation of America demonstrate that kosher certification doesn’t guarantee food safety.

Green: Though green markets have grown quickly, lower consumer spending and doubt over corporate ‘greenwashing’ may impact sales in the future. ‘In a recent survey, 60 percent of respondents said they were skeptical over many companies’ green marketing claims,’ Holleran said. ‘Green manufacturers need to clarify their environmental efforts and communicate their eco-effects, so shoppers can trust that they’re truly benefiting the environment.’

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