Business Assurance - Viewpoint

What matters to consumers when buying food & beverage products?

Geographic and socio-demo insights

China and Italy: trust branded products to be safe, but confidence lower overall

While the trust in brands to provide safe food is very high (95.2% vs. 85% average), Chinese respondents score non-packaged and unbranded food products much lower. Only 68.4% (vs. 80.3% average) trust non-packaged food products) and the number who trust unbranded food products is as low as 44.1% (vs. 68.6% average). Overall, the European respondents tend to trust that the products they buy are safe. Italians, however, share similarities with Chinese consumers in that they have less confidence in unbranded packaged food (60.8%) but higher trust in branded food products (92.4%).

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Europeans trust companies to ensure food safety

European respondents tend to trust food manufacturers and providers more than consumers in other geographies and are thus less active in seeking more product information. Only 49.5% (vs. 55.1% average) would welcome more information about food safety and 48.2% (vs 53.4% average) on health issues. In Asia, the picture is reverse and 60.7% would welcome more information about food safety and 58.5% on health issues.  For example, China with 75.5% and Malaysia with 66.9%  for food safety issues and China with 68.1% and Malaysia with 62.8% for health issues are well above average indicating that they take a greater individual responsibility to assure food safety and health information. Japan is the exemption, lowering the average (33.7%).

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Younger generations take a broader perspective

Food safety and health concerns among millennials are on par with the average. However, both Generation Z (ages 18-24) and Generation Y (ages 25-39) would welcome more transparency on environmental issues 43% and 42.8% respectively (vs. 38.4% average). Boomers (age 55+) seem to focus more on issues impacting them as individuals. They indicate less concern over environmental issues 31.1% and social issues (26.6% vs average).

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Concerns over social issues higher in Southeast Asia and Southern Europe

Southeast Asia and countries in South Europe pay higher attention to social issues. Countries where living wages or working hours can be an issue indicate score higher on healthy working conditions, such as Malaysia  (70.6% vs. 56.3% average), Vietnam (67.7%) and Indonesia (68.4%). In Europe, concerns over human rights are on the rise due to recent scandals on employment of irregular labor force in the agriculture sector. For example, in Italy human rights is a concern for 61.9% (vs. 55.5% average) and in Spain 61.8% say this is an issue.

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Health issues: Asians want clear indications of product content

Being informed on product content is top of mind across all geographies. However, Asians indicate a higher degree of concern. A total of 71.2% (vs. 65.2% average) indicate that more information on product content would be welcome. In Indonesia this number rises to 77.4% and China 74.7% would like more information. Japan (62.4%) and Singapore (67.4%) are an exemption, lowering the average. This supports the indication that consumers in parts of Asia assume a more individual responsibility for checking food products before buying.

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Environmental issues: eyes on greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption

Sustainability of packaging and organic ingredients top the overall list of concerns, but when it comes to wider issues, a few geographies stand out. Vietnam scores well above average on concern over greenhouse gas emissions (66.4% vs. 50.6% average) and is followed by Italy (59.4%), Brazil (57.1%) and Spain (56.2%). Reduced water consumption is a concern in European countries such as Germany (53.1%), Italy (49%) and Spain (51.5%). Brazil also register high scores with (47.4%).

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Other sustainability issues: animal welfare is a European concern. Product information tops the list

Of those who would like more information on animal welfare, European countries like Italy (60.7%), United Kingdom (58.8% vs. 52.5% average) and Germany (58.4%) top the list. Elsewhere, the primary focus is on product origin and ingredients. This is particularly prominent in Italy and in parts of Asia where product origin and ingredients are the main concerns. Among Italian consumers, 73.5% (vs 63.7% average) would welcome more information on such topics. In China 67.8% indicate the same and in Southeast Asia Vietnam tops the list with 78%, Indonesia (72%) and Malaysia (72.7%) following closely. Japan (58.1%) and Singapore (64.8%) lowers the average.

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Millenials would pay more for verified or certified products

The younger generation is more willing to pay extra if a product’s quality, safety, environmental, social and health information was verified by a third party or if the product itself (or the manufacturer) were certified to a recognized quality or food safety standard. Generation Z (age 18-24) score both around 79% and Generation Y (age 25-39) about 75% (vs. About 68% average). The older generation of boomers (age 55+) see this differently and only 56.1% (vs. 67.5% average) are willing to pay more for verified information and as few as 58.3% (vs. 69% average) would pay more for a certified product.

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Asians and Brazilians know how to check for third-party assurance

Consumers in Asia and Brazil check more frequently whether a product has been certified or not. In Brazil 69.7% (vs 53.4% average) know how to check for certification and in China 72.8% do the same. This is in sharp contrast to Europe, where most consumers do not feel this need to check for certification (39.8%).

Moreover, in Asia, 78.6% indicate that they would pay extra if the product or manufacturer is certified to a recognized quality or food safety standard. In China alone the number totals 79.9%. Countries where food safety is of higher concern tend to be more willing to pay extra for verified product information or product certification.

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Asia and Europe: Communication through product can bridge trust gap

In Asia, 59.7% (vs 45.7% average) already know of and have tried to use QR codes. The most regular users are found in China (34.2% vs. 18.5% average) and in Vietnam (44.1%). This is in contrast to European consumers, where 33.3% know of and have scanned a QR-code. Only 10.8% are regular users. The number rises drastically across geographies at the prospect of QR-codes providing access to information on product authenticity and origin. In Asia 78.2% (vs. 65% average) say they would then use QR-codes, with Vietnam (93.6%), Indonesia (91.2%) and China (86.8%) topping the list. Japan lowers the average with 42.2%. Numbers increase significantly in Europe (52.5%), as well.  Spain stands out with 71.3%.

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