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Building a foundation of trust with your consumers takes years to establish and can take only minutes to lose.

Trust in the food industry is more difficult to rebuild, too, than in other industries. SAI Global’s 2017 Consumer Trust Index revealed that food crises in particular are treated significantly more seriously than product failures. And when problems occur, your consumers now have access to a global audience, thanks to social media, pushing their grievances and distrust further than ever before.

Consumer trust is a fragile asset the food industry can’t afford to jeopardise. Food is far more than a product or source of fuel. We use food to celebrate, commiserate and to build relationships every day, in every culture. We are a society that relies on convenience, delivered through supermarkets, restaurants and cafes that are supplied by manufacturers and fresh food producers.


Everything we do in the food industry ultimately links to the consumers who purchase and that’s why we do what we do for the consumers. It is so much about Consumer Trust.”
Alison Wright. Director, Quality Assurance, Aryzta

As consumers we trust that our food has been sourced correctly, handled properly, and prepared safely. If that trust is broken, it provokes a deeply personal reaction breaking our confidence. Organisations must fully commit to protecting this trust by embracing their own ethics and prioritising transparency both internally and externally.

So, what can you do to build and maintain trust? One of the best things to do is put preventative measures in place before problems arise. These measures can be implemented through a combination of strategies:

  • Having a strong supplier management programme in place to mitigate health risks through the monitoring of perishable foods from supplier to your consumer
  • Implementing adequate food safety and food culture training of your staff, which is critical for continuous improvement, and can be essential in areas of high staff turnover
  • Ensuring your product descriptions are accurate for consumers with critical dietary requirements; descriptions should clearly state sensitive items, such as gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, soy-based, nut-based, etc.


“Today’s consumers wield enormous power in the trust relationship, which is why it’s so important to understand and protect their trust — particularly during times of crisis,”
Mr Peter Granat, Chief Executive Officer, SAI Global

In Case Of Emergency, Break Glass

If failure does strike, be prepared. It’s crucial that you have a plan in place and can execute it fully. Do not shy away and hope the problem will fade. After all, consumer interaction around food is your business and livelihood. It could – rather, will – make or break your customer’s trust with you.

1) Handle failure well
Forty-seven percent of consumers strongly believe that trust can be won back if responsibility for a failure is acknowledged, systems to prevent repeat errors are established and quality service is ongoing. Companies that are vigilant in their response to crises and use risk management frameworks to prepare and guide them through are more likely to win back the trust of their customers.

2) Embed a risk-aware culture
Eighty-two percent of consumers believe excellent customer service and providing quality goods and services are signs of trustworthiness. The use of quality management systems that embed a risk-aware culture is essential for companies to deliver a positive customer experience and build trust.

3) Risk approach
Identifying and managing risks help organisations to minimise consumer trust issues. This enables organisations to focus on strategic goals, understand their risk appetite and allow them to take advantage of opportunities, all the while building trust with their customers.

Join our Breakfast Session at GFSI’s Global Food Safety Conference

Consumer trust will be a running theme at this year’s Global Food Safety Conference, taking place in Tokyo March 5 – 8. We look forward to participating this year, and we invite you to join us for an insightful dive into consumer trust, “Is consumer trust a game you can afford to lose?” on Thursday, March 8 at 08:15.

Our speaker and panel of experts will discuss the key findings from the comprehensive Consumer Trust Index report discussing the importance of building and protecting your consumer trust.


Natalie Harvey


This post was written and contributed by:

Natalie Harvey
Global Product Marketing Manager
SAI Global


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