The 2017 Food & Beverage Trust Report

Although overall trust in the global ecosystem is at an all-time low and continues to decline, food & beverage (F&B) is the second most-trusted industry across all business sectors, said Mr Jamie Read, Regional Director, South East Asia, Health Sector, Edelman. Mr Read presented “The 2017 Food & Beverage Trust Report” to participants at a recent FIA Lunch Series session, held in collaboration with the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, on 12 May 2017 in Singapore.


Mr  Jamie Read, Regional Director, Southeast Asia, Health Sector, Edelman, spoke on the state of trust in the food industry during the recent FIA Lunch Series session on 12 May in Singapore.

In a presentation entitled “Crisis of Faith”, Mr Read shared data collected by the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer – an online survey of more than 33,000 respondents across 28 countries. Respondents were surveyed on their trust in four institutions: media, business, government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Global State of Distrust

The world is in a state of distrust, Mr Read said, with data showing that trust has declined in 21 out of 28 countries surveyed – the broadest decline since the beginning of the barometer’s General Population tracking in 2012. This has led to a broken system – there is an overriding sense of injustice, lack of hope, lack of confidence and desire for change among consumers.

While distrust and dissatisfaction in the system are more pronounced in Western economies, there is a risk of consumers in Asian economies developing fear and a lack of faith. Fear and uncertainty, further amplified and accelerated by a media echo chamber – in which official sources are now suspect and peers are instead viewed as credible experts – further erode belief in the system.

“Trust matters because it impacts every interaction you have with every person, brand and company”, Mr Read emphasised. “Trust gives license to lead, take chances, do new things and innovate.”

He added, “Brands need to step apart, so that they’re not seen as part of the system, but as part of the solution.”

Food Business on Notice

 Source: 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer

The F&B industry, data shows, is the most trusted sector after technology. Trust in the F&B sector (66 per cent) is also greater than trust in business as a whole (52 per cent) across all countries, and is highest in India, at 85 per cent; half of the top 10 countries with the highest trust levels are Asian economies. Furthermore, the F&B sector as a whole sees a larger trust increase, as compared to its sub-sectors such as manufacturing, agribusiness and retail. The sector continues to enjoy a steady rise in trust.

People expect more from the industry, Mr Read said. In the areas of media, policy and environment, 86 per cent think that media should be more accurate and balanced in reporting about F&B safety, nutrition and related health issues; 78 per cent agree that policymakers are responsible for encouraging healthier food and beverage choices; 70 per cent agree that policymakers should tax foods that negatively impact health; and 83 per cent agree that policymakers have a role in ensuring that the production of food and beverage does not harm the environment.

There is a high level of trust in the F&B sector because of the interaction people have with food every day, which creates an intrinsic understanding of the role that food plays in their lives, said Mr Read.

According to Edelman, the growing need for transparency and authenticity in the F&B space has brought about certain trends, in which the industry is being held more accountable for its commitments than ever before; the advancement of technology is empowering consumers with unprecedented access to knowledge about their food and beverage choices; and virtual reality has become a viable channel for multi-sensory experiences that impact the value chain.

Furthermore, there has been an increase in clean labelling efforts; e-commerce has become a dynamic marketplace that is expected to lead to trust-building engagement; and the need to cater to Generation Z’s need for personalisation and other demands will require fresh and interesting ways of thinking and product formulations.

Building & Maintaining Trust

Source: 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer

According to data collected, respondents said that in order to build and maintain trust, businesses need to practise transparency and authenticity in their operations and dealings; and show relatability by talking with and not at their audiences.

There is a fundamental shift in the balance of influence and authority, Mr Read said. In the old model, elites managed institutions to do things “for” the people; in the new model, a tension that has arisen, as people use their influence to reject established authority, has led to institutions working with the people, as institutional silos are dissolved.

And when the system is failing, Mr Read added, consumers expect companies to do more in order to build trust – in areas such as treating their employees well, offering high-quality products and services, listening to customers, paying their fair share of taxes, and having ethical business practices.


  Food & beverage is the second most-trusted sector in business, and trust continues to rise, said Mr Read.

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