The CFI provides the food and agriculture industries insights into which consumers are driving food trends, and how to earn their trust. The American Farm Bureau Federation was a lead sponsor of the research. The study identified five consumer segments, how each defines truth, and how food news and information move through culture.
The organization observed 8,500 consumers online across multiple social channels. Going back two years, the study forensically examined their behaviors, identifying beliefs, values, fears and unspoken motivations when it comes to food information.
Researchers found that ethics—the values that drive people’s beliefs, decisions and opinions—are what make messages about food resonate. Their summary notes that “shared values are 3 to 5 times more important to earning trust than simply sharing information.”
The study findings divided the sample population into five categories.
People who value food information that is objective and science-based made up 6 percent of the sample population. Their influence extends only as far as people who take scientific evidence, simplify it and share it through an ethical lens.
That second group makes up 9 percent of the population and tends to influence another 39 percent—consumers who are overwhelmed by the sheer volume and complexity of information and just want to do the right thing.
Researchers found that 32 percent of the population trusts large, sweeping claims from both official and unofficial sources and have the potential to undermine food information’s credibility by exaggerating the impact of a particular food or practice.
The remaining 14 percent prefer information that validates their existing beliefs about food and health.
Details about the 2016 study are available at food integrity.org.