EIT Food TrustTracker®
The EIT Food TrustTracker® is an evidenced-based questionnaire which has been developed to measuring consumer trust in the food industry and is an important first step towards understanding this gap. It will provide valuable insights which will be used to enhance consumer trust in the food value chain.
EIT Food Trust Report
In January 2021, EIT Food launched the first Trust Report. The report features the latest 2020 data from the EIT Food TrustTracker® which surveyed 19,800 consumers from 18 European countries to measure their trust in the food system and confidence in food products since the first survey in 2018. The report shows that consumer trust in all parts of the food sector has increased with overall increases of between 3% and 8%, but reiterates that there is still more to be done.
To learn more about the findings, download the EIT Food Trust Report in full and read our blog, 'What is the state of consumer trust in the European agrifood industry?'.
Introduction to the TrustTracker®
Consumer trust in the food system is complex because it involves many different actors: retailers, manufacturers, government authorities, and farmers all play a role.
The TrustTracker® maps European consumers’ trust in the food value chain and its different actors – from farm to fork to policy. Based on scientific insights, a model for measuring consumer trust has been developed. This evidence-based tool looks at differences within countries and by actor. The data is tracked annually to monitor developments and compare trust levels over time.
When trust is strong, we are able to get consumers on board with innovations and plant-based diets that can move the EU towards a healthier and more sustainable food system.
Our methodology is transparent and available to everyone.
Download our brochure here
Main findings across the years
EIT Food’s TrustTracker® has found that for European consumers, the openness of food system actors – their activities, the information they offer and their honesty – as well their perceived competence is of primary importance in establishing and maintaining trust.
When trust is higher, European consumers are more confident in their food and the technologies with which these have been produced.
Starting out with five core European countries (DE, ES, FR, PL and UK) in 2018, data in 2019 have been collected in 13 EU countries (BE, CH, DE, DK, ES, FR, FI, IE, IL, IT, PL, SP, UK). For 2020, a total of 18 countries are currently being surveyed. Each year, the Trust Tracker® extends its data collection to cover more areas of the European Union.
Findings on trust:
- European consumers trust farmers most, followed by retailers.
- UK and Spanish consumers were among the top three countries with the highest levels of trust in food actors in both years, with Finnish consumers having the highest levels in 2019.
- French, German and Belgian consumers show significantly lower levels of trust towards others.
Findings on confidence in food and technology:
- European consumers are most confident in their food’s taste and safety (followed by healthiness, authenticity, and sustainability).
- Similarly, European consumers are also most confident that food technologies help produce safe and tasty foods.
- British consumers are most confident in the integrity of food technology, especially the safety and tastiness.
- Finnish consumers are most confident in the integrity of their food.
How it works
Each year, the TrustTracker® will build on the previous years’ data to track changes in EU consumers’ levels of trust in aspects of the food system. People who exhibit trust in the food value chain (and its actors) are more confident about food integrity and food technology integrity. Food integrity includes taste, safety, health, authenticity and sustainability. So far, no study has made such an explicit link between trust and its effects.
EIT Food partners University of Reading (project lead), the European Food Information Council (EUFIC), Aarhus University, KU Leuven, and University of Warsaw developed the model behind the TrustTracker® tool. This model is designed to measure consumer trust in the food system, determinants of trust, beliefs in the trustworthiness of food actors – in their care, competence and openness – and the effects of trust on consumer confidence in foods and food technologies.
The model looks at how determinants of trust lead to consumer trust in the food system (comprised of beliefs about trustworthiness and trust in the actors of the food system), and how this leads to confidence in food and technology integrity. Additionally, it suggests that trust influences the relationship between consumer motivations (e.g., living a healthy or sustainable lifestyle) and their intentions and behaviour.
Information from the TrustTracker® can be used by food producers, manufacturers, retailers, and policy makers to map and monitor European trust levels over time, to identify gaps in trust, and to understand how to improve the relationship with consumers. This can lead to a more trusted, reliable, and stronger food system. In the future, the TrustTracker® can be expanded to measure changes in trust in specific food sectors and brands and can look at how to repair trust that is lost.
Additionally, a series of focus groups in each country, called the Citizen Participation Forum, explore each year’s TrustTracker® survey results in more detail. Between 150-200 participants in each country are selected in a way that balances urban vs. rural and age ranges. This dialogue provides more in-depth detail behind why consumers respond the way they do in the survey in each country.