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What is the food industry hiding?


Is the food industry transparent?

Our research shows that today’s consumers are more skeptical than ever before:

“There are plenty of people out there who don’t want us to know certain things that are in the food.”

The Center for Food Integrity took to the streets to hear what consumers had to say about transparency as part of its 2013 Consumer Trust in the Food System Research.



So how does the food industry regain trust? Our research shows that transparency is the key. But what is true transparency? We now know – because we measured it. Learn more about the Seven Steps to Trust-Building Transparency and how agriculture and food can build trust and overcome the "big food is bad" bias.


A Country Song Guide to Building Consumer Trust


Dust off your boots and polish your belt buckles for Wednesday night’s CMAs, when country crooners will no doubt belt out tunes about beer, broken hearts and big trucks. It’s music that cuts to the chase and, in some cases, cuts to the heart of what the agriculture and food industries can do to build trust with consumers…and keep them from boot scootin’ right out the door.

Here’s your seven-step country song guide to true transparency: 

  1. “A Little Less Talk (and A Lot More Action)” by Toby Keith.  Ethical principles must guide your behavior. You can tell the public you’re driven by ethics, but that won’t cut it. They’ll judge you by your actions.  (Motivation)
  2. “Tell Me Why” by Wynonna Judd.  Explain yourself, please. You must be forthcoming with information that might even be damaging – but important to consumers. And make it easy to find that information. (Disclosure)
  3. “Always on My Mind” by Willie Nelson.  Keep consumers’ opinions in mind. Always. Seek their input, acknowledge it and take their thoughts into account. (Stakeholder Participation)
  4.  “I’m not Lisa (My Name is Julie)” by Jessi Colter.  Oops. That’s just plain embarrassing. Do you really know your customers? Demonstrate that you know what information is relevant to them – and provide it. (Relevance)  
  5. “I’m a Ramblin’ Man” by Waylon Jennings.  Don’t beat around the bush and get bogged down in industry jargon and company-speak. Get to the point. Keep it clear, concise and easy to understand.  (Clarity)     
  6. “Check Yes or No” by George Strait.   You either did it or you didn’t.  When you make a mistake, take responsibility and apologize. Don’t be the coward of the county. (Credibility)  
  7. “Here in the Real World” by Alan Jackson.  Keep it real. Provide accurate, reliable information that’s complete and doesn’t leave out important information.  (Accuracy)


In an era where the public is more skeptical than ever and demanding more transparency, this seven-step plan will no doubt be music to consumers’ ears. 

What lessons can we take away from your favorite country classics?  


The Seven Steps to Trust-Building Transparency are the result of 2013 Consumer Trust in the Food System research conducted by The Center for Food Integrity.

Posted by Jana.

The food industry “shouldn’t be about making money.”


How can the food system be more transparent? Consumers say it shouldn’t be about profit:

“It shouldn’t be about making money, it should be about providing a quality of life for people.”  

The Center for Food Integrity took to the streets to hear what consumers had to say about transparency as part of its 2013 Consumer Trust in the Food System Research.



Our research shows that transparency is the key to building trust. But what is true transparency? We now know – because we measured it. Learn more about the Seven Steps to Trust-Building Transparency and how agriculture and food can build trust and overcome the "big food is bad" bias.


Register today for our complimentary 2013 Consumer Trust in the Food System research webinars Nov. 8 and Nov. 15 here. 

How We Overcome the “Big is Bad” Bias

We’re bombarded with information – and often misinformation – about food. In newspapers and magazines, on Facebook and Twitter, in our day-to-day conversations. It’s no wonder anxious consumers are wringing their hands and asking more questions. Is organic better for me? Should I eat processed foods? Will GM foods harm me and my family?

It’s part of a growing skepticism among consumers about “big food.” The “factory farms” and “corporations” producing our food just can’t be trusted. They believe that mass production creates more opportunity for error, that industrialized food production is inherently impersonal, and that big companies will put profits ahead of public interest. 

So how do we overcome this “big is bad” bias and ensure consumers that modern food production is worthy of their trust?

It boils down to transparency. Our annual research has shown that transparency builds trust. But what is transparency? Now we know.

 The 2013 CFI consumer trust research defines transparency and provides a roadmap for agriculture and food to create Trust-Building Transparency. In our latest research, we identified seven components in our Trust-Building Transparency model.

  1. Motivation – Act in a manner that is ethical and consistent with stakeholder interests.
  2. Disclosure – Share publicly all information, both positive and negative.
  3. Stakeholder Participation – Engage those interested in your activities or impact.
  4. Relevance – Share information stakeholders deem relevant.
  5. Clarity – Share information that is easily understood and easily obtained.
  6. Credibility – Share positive and negative information that supports informed stakeholder decision making and have a history of operating with integrity.
  7. Accuracy – Share information that is truthful, objective, reliable and complete.

We then tested 33 attributes of the seven elements.

The results show that our definition of Trust-Building Transparency rings true with the public. More than half the respondents gave ratings of 8-10 on a 10-point scale on all 33 attributes. Their responses provide clear direction on exactly what we can do to overcome their bias and skepticism and earn their trust. 

As a result, we’ve developed a Seven Steps to Trust-Building Transparency model and are excited to bring it to companies and organizations interested in building trust with their stakeholders and consumers. If you’d like to learn more please contact me, We’d be happy to partner with you as we work toward our shared goal of restoring consumer confidence. 

P.S. I invite you to register for our free 2013 Consumer Trust Research webinars!


I Read it on the Internet!

More than ever before, the way people get their information is rapidly changing.

According to CFI research, consumers are increasingly turning to online sources for information about the food system. How many times have you heard somebody say, “I read it on the internet!” Consumers also receive information from friends and family, their local television station, newspapers and radio as well.

Each of these sources of information provides an opportunity for you to engage with consumers. Offering yourself as a trusted source of information to local reporters is one way you can contribute accurate and meaningful content to stories about today’s food system.

We also encourage you to monitor local sources and make your voice heard when you see:

  • Misinformation or inaccuracies - If you see an article or blog posting that contains misinformation about farming or the food system, contact the reporter, write a letter to the editor, or submit an online comment. Tell your story and present truthful information so consumers can see another side of the story.
  • Opportunities to promote the benefits of today's food system - Oftentimes, there are numerous opportunities to proactively promote the benefits of today's food system, particularly during community events and holidays. Tie into the theme of the event or holiday and write an opinion-editorial article or post a short story online that delivers a timely and beneficial message.

Teddy Roosevelt said it best: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Most consumers today are more than two generations removed from the farm. They don’t understand why farms look like they do today, why beneficial technology is used, or other recent advances in food production. What they want to know first and foremost is that farmers are doing the right thing and share their values.

For more information about shared values communication, please check out


Posted by Abby.

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