Consumers have more faith in farmers and the food industry since the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research.
The ability of farmers to continue producing food and supermarkets to stock shelves during the global pandemic has improved trust, the results of a project by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) found.
Consumers were asked to score trust in the different players in the food chain from one to seven, with seven being the highest number.
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And farmers came out on top (score 5.15/7) followed by food retailers (4.6/7).
Trust in food manufacturers, caterers and restaurants was, on average, the same as before the virus (4.5/7). Government agencies were the least trusted (4.12/7).
“Trust in farmers was high before Covid, but it is even higher now,” said Richard Bennett, professor of agricultural economics at the University of Reading and head of the EIT Food-funded Grand Challenges project.
“Consumers see farmers as very hardworking, trustworthy and honest people, who are battling against the elements, pests and diseases to put food on people’s plates.”
During the first lockdown in the spring, supermarket shelves ran empty as panic buyers flocked to stores to stock up on essential food staples, such as bread and milk.
The global pandemic has placed unprecedented stresses on every point in the supply chain, from farmers and processors to wholesalers and retailers and transport and logistics.
But UK farmers have strived to ensure that supermarket shelves have remained replenished with safe, affordable and nutritious food throughout this crisis.
Support for farm shops
Farm shops have also enjoyed a boom in sales as more people have shopped locally during the lockdown.
According to a separate survey by rural insurer NFU Mutual, 40% of people plan to buy more food from farm shops and local producers this Christmas.
Many farm retailers have transformed their businesses to provide local food deliveries to support vulnerable people who are self-isolating.