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Is the Food System Headed in the Right Direction?    

Is the U.S. food system headed in the right direction or down the wrong track?

In an environment where consumer skepticism abounds, you might think few have a positive impression of the food system. However, in CFI’s latest trust research 42 percent say they believe the food system is headed in the right direction.

Twenty-four percent believe it’s on the wrong track and 35 percent are unsure.

Women vs. Men

When we look at various segments of the population, only 32 percent of women believe the food system is headed in the right direction and 28 percent say it’s on the wrong track. That’s not surprising. Typically, women are more skeptical when it comes to all food issues compared to men.

Men are optimistic with half, 50 percent, believing the food system is headed in the right direction and only 18 percent agreeing that it’s on the wrong track.

Foodie Factor

While it may be reasonable to assume that foodies’ heightened interest about all things food would lead them to be the most skeptical of all segments. They, in fact, are the most positive with 56 percent believing the U.S. food system is headed in the right direction.

The survey doesn’t ask why respondents feel the way they do, but foodies likely view the food system as more favorable because it works for them. With the diversity of choices on the market – organic, cage-free, local, grass-fed, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free and antibiotic-free, for example – the food they seek is readily accessible.

Education and Political Leanings

For the first time we looked at education level and political orientation. Among those with a high school education or less, only 38 percent believe the food system is headed in the right direction, while 51 percent of those with advanced degrees do.

Forty-eight percent of those with conservative leanings are more optimistic with 48 percent agreeing that the food system is headed in the right direction, while only 38 percent of those identifying as liberal feel the same way.

The Right Direction: Earning Trust

Understanding the perspectives of each segment can help inform an effective strategy for increasing trust, keys to which are communicating with values that consumers care about and being transparent.

CFI research shows today’s consumer wants to know you share their values and will do the right thing. They expect transparency and want to see “practices” in action – showing what you say you do, as practices illustrate values in action. They also want the ability to engage and get questions answered promptly in easy-to-understand language.

Implementing these strategies will send you down the path to meaningful engagement.

Learn more about consumer attitudes on the food system and engaging with trust in the CFI research report, “A Dangerous Disconnect: Research IDs Food and Ag Trust Gaps.”