In recent years, restaurants have been forced to become all things to all people. To draw more customers in, operators have added new menu items, appealed to a wider net of customers and taken advantage of new technological advances (see Hospitality Market Report on p.26). Today, competition is tougher than ever and stealing market share has become the number-1 game in town.
In many cases, the need to know has played a dominant role in the changing face of the landscape. Increasingly, customers want to know where their food comes from and who’s producing it. It’s all about provenance and transparency — whether we’re talking about meat, fish and seafood, or our vegetable supply.
New research released by the Calgary-based Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI), studying consumer concerns and expectations surrounding food transparency and the overall food system, shows Canadians feel the food system is headed in the right direction, proven by an increase from 30 per cent in 2016 to 43 per cent of Canadians this year. But while consumer confidence in food transparency is increasing, an equal number of Canadians (43 per cent) say they aren’t sure if the food system is on the right track, down from 50 per cent in 2016.
The 2017 CCFI Public Trust Research study was undertaken in June 2017 and surveyed 1,307 Canadians about top life concerns, specifically their level of concern, trust and transparency expectations related to food and how it’s grown. Those polled clearly identified food companies as the most responsible for providing information. Other food-system partners, including farmers, government, restaurants and grocery stores, also ranked high as being responsible for transparency.
According to a release by the CCFI, the study reinforces that “Canadians are looking for credible information to make informed decisions about their food,” says Crystal Mackay, president, CCFI. “This research reinforces that everyone in the Canadian food system…should engage in conversations about food.”
Consumers are hungry for information on food transparency and they’re scouring company websites to find third-party audits, track records and practices and policies that demonstrate a company’s values. The study found when reviewing these elements of transparency, accuracy was the most important attribute to Canadians.
While many Canadians may be unsure about their food or how it’s grown, they clearly want to know more. And, for the second year in a row, Canadians ranked the rising cost of food and keeping healthy food affordable as their top two life concerns — above rising energy costs, healthcare and the economy.