When it comes to consumer confidence in food safety, communicating shared values is three to five times more effective than sharing data. That’s the conclusion of peer-reviewed research by the Center for Food Integrity (CFI), which tracks consumer attitudes on key food-system issues (see www.foodintegrity.org/page/research).

“Consumers still trust farmers, but they’re no longer sure that what happens today in agriculture is farming,” CFI says, based on 2009 research. “They are not willing to assign the positive attributes historically attributed to farmers to those involved in food production today. Our challenge was to find new models to reconnect a public removed from food production to the men and women who produce, process, sell and serve food today.

“Women account for 93% of food purchases, so it makes sense to design online and personal consumer-outreach efforts to them in ways that builds farmers’ personal credibility,” CFI says.

“Early-adopting consumers prefer information online sources about the food system, followed by friends and family and their local television station,” says 2010 CFI research. “Traditional media sources, including newspapers and radio, were least preferred by early adopting consumers.”


January 2011