DALLAS — Supermarkets are winning the battle for consumers' trust when it comes to food safety, according to new data released in a presentation at Food Marketing Institute's Future Connect conference here last week.
The 2011 FMI Trends survey of consumers found that 88% of shoppers are “somewhat” or “completely” confident in the safety of the food they buy at the supermarket, the highest score in seven years.
In addition, supermarkets rank at the bottom of the list of places consumers feel contamination is likely to occur.
“That's one category where coming in last is actually best,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and chief executive officer, FMI, in a presentation at the conference.
Consumers are also likely to take responsibility themselves for food safety, according to the survey, with 58% saying they believe shoppers themselves are responsible for food safety, up 7 points over the 2010 survey.
“The confidence customers have in [supermarket] products is also reflected in the fact that only 12% report they have stopped purchasing certain products due to food safety concerns,” Sarasin said, noting that figure had dropped to 2005 levels.
“This customer confidence that we are experiencing doesn't happen by accident,” she said. “You have built consumer trust by taking food safety issues seriously and handling them meticulously.”
Still, Sarasin said there is room for improvement in the communication of recall and food safety information to consumers.
Almost 80% of consumers report TV as their primary source for recall information, she noted.
“By taking advantage of the communication channels available to us, the supermarket industry has an opportunity to play a more central role in education and the dissemination of food safety information to shoppers,” she said. “Handling communications in a responsible way builds customer trust, and customer confidence that you can be trusted.”