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NFU Mutual report claims that consumers blame producers for food fraud // September 12 2017

A new report from the National Farmers Union (NFU) Mutual finds that 33% of consumers surveyed were less trusting of food supply chains than they were 5 years ago:

  • 63% blamed producers for food fraud, compared with retailers, distributors and farmers.
  • 72% believed food fraud was a widespread problem in UK.
  • 27% believed they had personally experienced food fraud.
  •  33% believed that food fraud was likely to increase in the future.
  • Only 12% had confidence in the European food chain.
  • Only 7% had confidence in the Global food chain.
  • 25% had greater trust in short, local supply chains and trusted small companies more than large corporations.
  • 35% were least trusting of processed foods.
  • 18% were least trusting of red meat.
  • 15% were least trusting of food supplements.
  • For 46%, high profile food fraud cases (including the 2013 horsemeat scandal) were the most common cause of a decline in confidence.
  • 70% regularly took measures to ensure their food is legitimate.
  • 17% completely avoid certain foods they believe are susceptible to fraud.
  • 40% were turned off by labels including exaggerated claims about a product’s benefits.
  • 40% were turned off by labels in a foreign language.
  • 34% were turned off by low quality packaging.
  • 33% were turned off by an unknown brand.
  • 28% were turned off by inadequate labelling.
  • 77% agreed they would not know how to identify a counterfeit product.

The report is designed to benefit all supply chain businesses – including farmers. It states that businesses that are adaptable and work to meet demands for transparency could potentially achieve a competitive advantage:

 “Producers may find that they earn more consumer trust and reap the benefit in sales by investing in quality packaging with clear labelling – especially important if targeting young people under 24 years of age…………… Retailers may benefit from promoting supply chain inspections and selling products with quality labelling.”

Based on the survey findings, the NFU also urges retailers and caterers to consider using a short, national or local supply chain maintain customer confidence.

"Producers and manufacturers have a legal obligation to ensure the safety and authenticity of the food we eat, and the majority of food businesses recognise this responsibility. However, the figures in this report reinforce the critical need for zero tolerance of dishonesty in the food chain and the importance of a robust response wherever it is found.”

Andy Morling, Head of Food Crime, Food Standards Agency.

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