April 21, 2018

UL Study Finds Consumers’, Food Manufacturers’ Perceptions Differ

Underwriter Laboratories (UL) has conducted a survey that studied food safety perceptions from the consumer’s viewpoint and food manufacturers’ viewpoints. The survey is in the report “Navigating the Product Mindset.” The study began last spring, with more than 1200 consumers and 1100 manufacturers taking part.

The findings from manufacturers are eye opening:

  • Food safety is the most important factor affecting competition in the world marketplace, according to the manufacturers surveyed.
  • Only 2% of manufacturers think their company is “behind the curve” in product safety, while 63% think they’re “ahead of the curve”.
  • Manufacturers think they, not the government, retailers, or consumer groups, are responsible for food safety.
  • Manufacturers think it’s their job to tell their customers about product safety information.
  • Food manufacturers feel their product has consistent quality and more than half think they have the ability to manage risk.
  • Product safety is the most important consideration in competition, according to 94% of respondents.
  • More than 90% of manufacturers think that product safety is becoming more important.
  • More than 80% of manufacturers agree that consumers are gaining influence and becoming more empowered in the food marketplace.

On the other hand, consumers are not as positive. More than 70% of consumers surveyed said that products are no better than they were five years ago, and most feel manufacturers can do a better job. From the survey:

  • Consumers think food safety has stayed the same or improved slightly in the last two years. Consumers in China, however, think the safety of processed and fresh food has gotten worse.
  • More than 70% of consumers have trouble finding safety information about food products.
  • The most important safety concerns include foodborne illness risks, chemical additives, and sanitary conditions.
  • More than half of the respondents believe a food product’s country of origin will become more important in the next five years.
  • More than 75% of consumers think processed food manufacturers don’t do enough to follow environmentally friendly manufacturing procedures. About the same number feel the same about fresh food manufacturers.
  • Most consumers, 76%, pay attention to the country of origin when they buy their food.

Underwriter Laboratories is an independent safety science company and has been around for more than 100 years.

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