Red Tractor assures shoppers to remain confident about food safety across price ranges

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(Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Consumer trust in food safety has dropped as they trade down amid the cost-of-living crisis, claims a new research commissioned by YouGov and Red Tractor. Calling on to tackle this “before the drop in trust becomes toxic”, Red Tractor chief has assured shoppers about the standards and safety of food produced in the UK despite the lower price range.

Trust in food fell from 81 percent in 2021 to 73 percent in 2022, while trust in other sectors such as gas and electricity supply fell even further from 70 percent to 36 percent. The research was conducted with more than 3,500 adults across the UK, who were asked to rate their trust in several British institutions.

The drop in trust comes as shoppers are forced to change their buying habits because of the cost-of-living crisis. Almost half (46 per cent) of people said they are changing what they buy to feed their families.

While 30 per cent of consumers are buying less meat, almost a quarter of shoppers (24 per cent) say they are trading down, buying what they perceive to be food produced to lower food safety and animal welfare standards, which increases to 29 per cent for people on lower incomes. 

The research further add that 13 per cent are buying less fruit and vegetables, which again rises to 19 per cent for people with less disposable income.      

While 78 per cent of people last year said they trusted the safety and quality of food purchased from supermarkets, only 58 per cent said they trust supermarkets. The shift is the result of customer trading down value ranges, the standards for which are assumed to be weaker, states the report.

“With the impact of the war in Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis taking hold, it’s no surprise that confidence in so many aspects of daily life has fallen. While British food continues to be highly trusted, our latest Trust in Food Index shows that as people are forced to trade down into cheaper products, they lose confidence in the way the food is produced,” said reports quoted Christine Tacon, Chair of Red Tractor, as saying.

“That’s understandable – but it’s also unnecessary. Whilst some shoppers now struggle to afford the prime cuts and choice ingredients, if they buy assured British food, the strict regulations on food safety, animal welfare and other aspects of food production, apply equally to value ranges as they do to premium products. We must tackle this before the drop in trust becomes toxic, by making it clear to people doing their shopping.”

Tacon called on to reassure people that whatever their price range, they can be confident in the standards and safety of food produced in the UK, saying “people should never have to choose between price and food safety”.