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International Food Safety Consumer Study results revealed

Food safety testing lab
Laboratory assistant at work in a food safety testing lab.
Food safety testing lab
Laboratory assistant at work in a food safety testing lab.

Everything you thought you knew about your consumer needed to be revisited this year, and will need close monitoring in the months to come as we continue to experience the effects of the pandemic. 

We all know that understanding your consumer inside and out is crucial to the success of your products and brand, but the pandemic has rocked the world to its core, and the consumer profile you once knew may well have changed dramatically as a result.  All the needs, wants, values and priorities of our consumers have been thrown up into the air, and as they fall back down, how they settle will mean possibly reevaluating product launches, brand values, and all manner of communication to your most important asset – your post-Covid-19 consumer!

A recently published international consumer study released by Bio-Mérieux and Mérieux NutriSciences looked to better understand consumer perceptions around food safety since Covid-19, and whether their level of confidence in the food they eat has altered, as well as any changes they’ve made to eating habits. This study was carried out on consumers across France, India, China and the US, though the results were indicative of similar studies done on Australian consumers.

The results overall showed a heightened consumer interest in all areas of food safety, and an increased importance on trust and confidence in the food consumed, when comparing this year to pre-pandemic times.

Across the four countries surveyed, consumers had differing criteria for defining the safety of the food, and identifying the best guarantee of safety of the food they buy.  In France, 72 per cent placed most importance on origin and traceability of a product and ingredients.  In China, 49 per cent chose product composition (ingredients and additives), whilst in India and the US, 60 per cent and 54 per cent respectively chose the expiry date as the best guarantee of food safety.

What all consumers did agree on though was three topics of extreme concern in relation to food safety – the presence of chemicals such as pesticides, antibiotics, and additives in food, the presence of bacteria such as salmonella and listeria, and the increasing incidence of food fraud.

In the future, consumers would be willing to change certain consumption habits such as being open to new packaging, shopping more frequently to reduce the need for preservatives in products, and buying imperfect fresh food that doesn’t have the usual shape and/or colour.  They are also home cooking more, and consuming much less processed foods.  They are eating more cereals and vegetables, and eating more food that can improve the immune system.

So what does all of this mean to your NPD process?  Food safety has always been of high importance in Australia, and indeed we can boast being one of the most safe and highly regulated countries in the world when it comes to food safety.  But the change is that consumers, now more than ever before, are making brand and product choices based on higher levels of information, to give them a level of trust and confidence in the food they consume.

Moving forward, successful food companies will show traceability and transparency to their consumers by investing in blockchain technology, whole genome sequencing, and digital platforms monitoring food safety across the manufacturing sites.  They will invest in and promote to consumers their commitment to food safety, which will also be well received in markets across the globe, as Australia will benefit from their already established reputation as producing ‘clean and green’ products with a high value and safety offer.

Mérieux NutriSciences has been working with Australian businesses for decades to ensure the safety and quality of their products. Providing a unique suite of services, assistance is available at every step of the product lifecycle.  

Whether it be our JAS-ANZ accredited auditing services, dedicated label compliance team consulting on food and other consumer goods labels, or the vast offer of micro and chemistry laboratory services, tests such as pathogens, allergens, nutritional analysis including vitamins and minerals, probiotic enumeration, water activity, shelf life and stability studies, Mérieux NutriSciences has all your safety and quality needs covered!  

Our Safety HUD program offers tailored monitoring of food fraud and safety alerts worldwide in real-time, and our partnership with Crystalchain offers a complete blockchain food traceability solution to further build trust with Australian consumers.

Visit our website for more information at www.merieuxnutrisciences.com/au or contact the friendly team directly at sales.au@mxns.com.  They are ready to help as you enter this new phase of doing business in the post-Covid-19 world.  

To read more results from the International Food Safety Consumer Study 2020, click here