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Trust in the food chain, according to the "Eit Food" project

First results of the international research conducted by Turin University

The Italian team, coordinated by Prof. Anna Miglietta of the psychology department of the University of Turin, with the collaboration of the philosophy department presented the first results of the international research project "Eit Food: Increasing consumer trust and support for the food supply chain and for food companies "; three-year project (2020-2022) part of the Consumer Trust Grand Challenge. The University of Turin participates in the consortium of the project led by the University of Reading, United Kingdom, and composed of 16 partners from the academic world (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, University of Helsinki, Queen's University Belfast, University of Warsaw and Vtt), industrial (including Azti, Csic, DouxMatok, Grupo An, PepsiCo, Sodexo, Strauss Group, Technion) and non-profit organizations such as Eufic.

The survey involved 2,363 people, including consumers and actors in the food chain, in the 6 countries involved in the project: Finland, Israel, Italy, Poland, Spain, UK. Among the main results at the international level, it is noted that the effects of the pandemic, for the majority of the sample, did not change their level of confidence in the food supply chain. There is appreciation for his uninterrupted ability to provide food. Others, on the other hand, interpret the panic scenes from food buying and stockpiling as a lack of confidence in his ability to maintain adequate levels of supply. Generally speaking, consumers in the 6 countries say they have greater confidence in farmers / breeders, especially small, local and independent producers.

For catering, the greatest degree of trust is given to small and local businesses. Among the main actions that they would like to see implemented, to increase their degree of confidence, consumers report: the need for animal husbandry according to high standards of welfare; price fairness; labeling and traceability of products and environmental protection. Specifically, of the results that emerged in Italy starting from an online questionnaire submitted to 369 consumers, 7 focus groups with consumers, 1 workshop with 14 representatives from the business, academic and journalistic world, 5 interviews with representatives from the industrial world, that consumers declare that they place greater trust, in the face of the uncertainty and risks deriving from the virus, in large retailers of branded products. Therefore, the consumption of packaged or even frozen products prevails, to the detriment of fresh ones.

There is a strong trust in the regulatory and consultancy bodies of the agro-food chain but the mass media is viewed with suspicion, in particular for the advertisements involving renowned chefs despite the fact that cooking entertainment gains more and more space on television platforms and on the web. Agri-food companies are believed to do little to ensure true transparency of the products they market. There is great attention to two aspects of corporate social responsibility: the welfare of the animals involved in the agro-food chain; waste disposal (both during production and after consumption). Finally, the perception of farmers as the most vulnerable in the agri-food chain prevails both among companies and among Italian consumers.

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EFA News - European Food Agency