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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!


Celebrating Food Every Day

Food plays such an integral role in each of our lives. Consumed for both health and pleasure, in 3-square meals or snacks throughout the day, food is sustenance, pleasure and the root of so many conversations.

Food Day is a multi-dimensional national initiative created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest that celebrates “healthy, affordable and sustainably produced food and a grassroots campaign for better food policies.” The annual event will take place throughout the nation on Thursday, Oct. 24. Click here for more information about Food Day 2013.

As an integral partner in the food system, the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) believes that it’s important to be a visible and active participant in the messaging surrounding Food Day 2013 activities. This includes online interactions that share information from our more than 150 university experts on about subjects such as food production, responsible sustainability and being a transparent partner in the food system.

This year, CFI will highlight the topics of Education, Hunger Reduction and Support for Farms and Farmers for its focus during Food Day 2013.


For more information about Food Day and how you can become involved, please visit We hope you’ll join us in celebrating food!

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