Building Consumer Trust Requires Government and Food Industry Collaboration

With Indian consumers demanding food that is safe, nutritious and of good quality, in order to build trust and empower consumers to make the right food choices, the food industry and the government are leading initiatives to educate consumers, provide transparent information and address concerns such as traceability. However, building consumer trust can be challenging in the wake of food safety scandals or misinformation about products across social media; and reinforcing consumer confidence and trust can be better achieved by synergising government and industry initiatives, according to a panel of experts at the recent FICCI Foodworld India 2018 conference.

Mr Pawan Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer of the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), representatives from the Indian food industry and Food Industry Asia (FIA) spoke of the initiatives taken to build consumer trust as part of a panel on “Building Consumer Trust: Synergising Government and Corporate Initiatives”, moderated by Ms Rinka Banerjee, Founder & Director, Thinking Forks Consulting.

 Photo credit: FICCI Foodworld India 2018

“Building (consumer) trust is at the very core of what the FSSAI does. By putting the FSSAI logo on a product, we are trying to assure the consumer that this product has been tested and is safe,” said Mr Agarwal. He added that the FSSAI was building back-end systems to ensure food is safe, and shared how food safety capacity-building and training are being conducted in partnership with industry associations like the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and FIA.

Photo credit: FICCI Foodworld India 2018

Mr Ishteyaque Amjad, Vice-President, Corporate Affairs, Coca-Cola India; Mr Arun Mishra, Executive Vice President & Head of Regulatory Affairs, GlaxoSmithKiline (GSK) India; and Mr Jaideep Gokhale, Marketing Communications Director, South Asia, East Asia & Oceania, Region Asia, Tetra Pak, highlighted initiatives taken by their individual companies to build consumer trust in their brands. Mr Sanjay Khajuria, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Nestlé India Ltd., spoke about the work done by Nestlé in India to provide safe, quality products to consumers, and highlighted the importance of providing transparent information, so that consumers can make informed choices. Mr Khajuria also highlighted the work done through the partnership among FICCI, FSSAI and FIA in India in 2017, to build capacity and raise awareness of implementing Front of Pack (FOP) Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) nutrition labelling among India food companies, especially small- and medium-scale enterprises

Speaking on the panel, Mr Steven Bartholomeusz, Policy Director, FIA, said that the four FOP GDA workshops conducted in India through partnerships between government and industry, was a great example of how partnerships between these sectors can help build consumer trust. He also highlighted other examples of such partnerships in the region.

Photo credit: FICCI Foodworld India 2018

“We have a tremendous opportunity here in India to deliver positive outcomes for India’s consumers, by focusing on providing science-based nutrition information on product labels. But this approach has only been made possible through the very active support and participation of the FSSAI, as well as the power of FICCI to convene industry around an initiative that is a win-win for all,” Mr Bartholomeusz said.

The one-day conference featured several keynote speakers and panel discussions. Delivering the welcome address, Mr Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, spoke of the rapid changes, driven by technology, taking place in the food industry. He also highlighted that Indian food habits have changed significantly, with the processed food industry continuing to grow.

A very lively CEO panel on growth and opportunity in food processing, featuring Mr Suresh Narayanan, Chairman & Managing Director, Nestlé India Ltd.; Mr Mohit Anand, Managing Director, Kellogg India Pvt. Ltd.; Mr Siraj Chaudhry, Chairman, Cargill India Pvt Ltd.; Mr Hemant Malik, CEO-Food Division, ITC Ltd.; Mr Vikas Mittal, Managing Director, McCain Foods (India) Pvt Ltd.; and Mr Parth Patel, Business Director, South Asia, Dupont Nutrition and Health, was well-received by the audience.

Photo credit: FICCI Foodworld India 2018

FIA will continue its work with FICCI and the FSSAI in 2018 to build capacity in the area of food safety among local industry players and regulators, as well as in the fields of health and nutrition.

FIA issues regular e-bulletins with analysis on relevant food and beverage industry issues across the region. To subscribe to this service, please click here.