Survey: Consumers Demand Deeper Transparency From Food Brands, Retailers

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Nearly two-thirds of grocery shoppers would switch to brands that disclose more than just ingredient and nutritional information, according to FMI-The Food Industry Association and NielsenIQ

New research by FMI–The Food Industry Association and NielsenIQ reveals shopper perspectives on transparency have evolved, running much deeper and broader than just a few years ago.

According to the “Transparency in an Evolving Omnichannel World” report, which presents survey data from 1,035 U.S. adults who grocery shop for their households, today’s consumers want food brands and retailers to share more than just ingredient lists and Nutrition Facts. They also seek information about manufacturing practices, ingredient sourcing, company sustainability efforts and more. Full disclosure of such details, most shoppers believe, is a key indicator of transparency, which is critical to earning their trust and loyalty.

Notably, the survey respondents were not necessarily natural products shoppers, who are known for placing a high value on manufacturer and retailer transparency. However, the fact that the average U.S. consumer now feels so strongly about transparency means that natural brands and retailers must continue to share their stories and detail their product attributes, and do so across multiple channels.

According to the FMI and Nielsen survey, 55% of consumers today have purchased groceries online in the last 30 days, compared to just 26% in 2018. Among those who currently buy groceries online, 64% didn’t start doing so until early 2020, with 43% specifying the pandemic as the reason for their switch.

The survey defined transparency for respondents as “providing detailed information such what is in your food and how it was made.” When asked how much transparency matters to them, 72% of shoppers said it was either important or extremely important when deciding which food brands and retailers to support. For 78% of those consumers, their desire to be informed is tied to their families’ health and well-being, while 69% said it’s linked to environmental concerns.

It also shows that transparency typically translates to trust, which in turn breeds loyalty. A whopping 79% of respondents reported that when manufacturers and retailers share complete and easy-to-understand ingredient definitions, they are more likely to trust those companies. Similarly, 79% said they are typically more loyal to brands that offer more in-depth information than what’s on the physical product packaging. In fact, 64% would switch from a brand they normally buy to a different one that shares such details.