Thursday, March 27, 2014 by Lee Mannering
According to a new Sullivan Higdon & Sink report, only 34 percent of Americans feel the agriculture industry is transparent and only 30 percent feel food companies are transparent about food production practices. In addition, 67 percent of consumers think having food production knowledge is important and 65 percent want to know more about where food comes from.
Among the food production topics of greatest concerned highlighted in the Emerging Faith in Food Production report are pesticide and insecticide use, animal antibiotics, animal hormones, and the treatment of animals. Interestingly, concern with animal treatment scored significantly higher than concern with humane treatment and fair labor practices in the agriculture and food manufacturing industries.
(With regard to consumer concerns on pesticide use, this is a key reason PMA supports the Alliance for Food and Farming, which hosts the Safe Fruits and Veggies website. There you can find a variety of tools and information to help you communicate about the safety of our industry and its products.)
In terms of demographics, younger consumers are more likely to perceive the agriculture community and food companies as transparent. Men are much more likely than women to agree that the agriculture community and food companies are transparent. Parents are also more likely to agree.
When asked to rate which methods would make a food producer more trustworthy, 56 percent said better labeling of key production and nutritional information. This was followed by 50 percent indicating public tours of farms/food production facilities.
Also, 53 percent of consumers feel that farmers and ranchers are trustworthy sources of food production information because they have a unique perspective and the credibility to impart information. This is especially important given the 77 percent of Americans who don’t have good knowledge about farming or ranching. SHS recommends that food companies use farmers and ranchers to impart education via appropriate touch points, and as a result, preserve the authenticity of this valuable asset to their brands.