Food costs, safety among consumer concerns

U.S. consumers are more concerned about the safety of the food they eat than they are the war in Iraq or global warming according to a new study. The finding is contained in the Center for Food Integrity’s (CFI) annual Consumer Trust Survey.
In addition the survey asked respondents to react to 24 attitudinal statements about the food system. Fewer than 20% of those surveyed strongly agreed that government agencies are doing a good job ensuring the safety of the food we eat.
“Consumers are very concerned about food safety,” said Jan Wilson, president of Gestalt Inc., the international market research firm conducting the study. “Governmental agencies responsible for ensuring the safety of the food supply are not being perceived very favorably.”
The study also asked consumers to rate their level of concern about a series of life events and current situations. Not surprisingly, rising energy costs, the U.S. economy, and the rising cost of food were the top three issues of concern. However, food safety rated higher as a concern than global warming or the war in Iraq (see Table 1).
CFI conducts research annually to benchmark consumer attitudes toward the important issues associated with the U.S. food system. This year’s research explores how much “social license” consumers are willing to grant producers, processors, retailers and restaurants.
Full survey results will be released at the Center for Food Integrity 2008 Food System Summit taking place Oct. 8-9, in Indianapolis. The research also contains consumer attitudes on the issues of immigration, animal well-being and energy/sustainability. More information on the summit, including how to register, is available at

Table 1: Summary of Consumer Concern about Issues

Issues                                                                             Mean

Rising Energy Costs                                                        8.37

The U.S. Economy                                                            8.25

Rising Cost of Food                                                         8.09

Rising Health Care Costs                                                  7.73

Personal Financial Situation                                             7.51

Food Safety                                                                      7.03

The War in Iraq                                                                 6.97

Illegal Immigrants Working in the Food System               5.81

Global Warming                                                                5.79

Humane Treatment of Farm Animals                                5.66

The Impact of Immigrants Who are in the                                              Country Legally Working in the Food System                     4.16

Scale:  0 = No Concern        10 = Very Concerned

© 2008, Center for Food Integrity
Number of respondents: 2066