The International Food Information Council (IFIC) conducts an annual Food and Health Survey. The 2015 survey includes responses from 1,007 Americans, and has some disturbing news for food manufacturers. Thirty-six percent of those surveyed indicated that “chemicals” are their “top food safety” concern, up from 23% last year. (Note: the 2014 question had slightly different wording). Thirty-four percent were more concerned about food borne illness.
The number of respondents who have “confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply” has fallen from 70% (2013 survey) to 60%. IFIC speculates that it is “a symptom of the heightened level of ‘noise’ in news coverage and on-line commentary about food.”
Clearly, food manufacturers, restaurant chains and retailers are responding to consumer demand and are removing certain ingredients from their products. (See: Consumer demand is changing iconic products).
No matter how companies “clean up” formulations in an effort to improve consumer perception of their products a competitor is going to seek a point of differentiation by questioning an ingredient or ingredients in the formulation. This is a marketing strategy being employed by many companies and its level of success ensures it is going to continue.
A copy of the Food and Health Survey report is available here; it’s a hefty 98-pages and has some great infographics. It’s a fascinating read. There’s a landing page here, which also includes a webcast.