Trust in farmers on the rise post-pandemic

Public trust in farmers has increased post-pandemic in the UK, even as confidence in food authorities took a big hit, new research has found.

Abi Kay
clock • 2 min read
Trust in farmers on the rise post-pandemic

Confidence in food authorities wanes.

Public trust in farmers has increased post-pandemic in the UK, even as confidence in food authorities took a big hit, new research has found.

According to a University of Reading study, 26 per cent of people reported a decrease of trust in the Government and food regulators, while only 12 per cent reported an increase.

But 15 per cent of those surveyed said they trusted farmers more since the pandemic, while only 8 per cent trusted them less.

The findings were replicated across the EU, where 30 per cent of consumers had lost trust in food authorities. Only 10 per cent reported an increase.

Professor Richard Bennett, who led the research, said: “Farmers tend to be the mosttrusted in food supply chains.

“They are seen as honest and hard working, battling against the weather, pests and diseases to produce our food.”

On trust in food authorities, Prof Bennett described the results of the study as ‘significant’.

“Something occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic that has erodedtrustin food authorities – the numbers show us that, very clearly,” he said.

“It is not that easy to speculate on the reasons, but suffice to say that following a huge challenge, such as Covid-19, societal opinion can make major shifts.

“And if a pandemic, or cost of living crisis is perceived to be handled badly by authorities, then that can reducetrustin authorities across the board.

“It has been some years since major food scandals such as the horse meat scandal in 2012, and earlier issues, such asSalmonellaand BSE/CJD.

“This time, there is no clear reason for distrusting food authorities, specifically, and so we assume that it is a matter of wide distrust of authorities more generally.”

The research project was funded by EIT Food and was part of a University ofReadinghub for research into food systems, from farm to fork.

The ‘Grand Challenge in ConsumerTrust’ project partnered withTrustTracker to ask 23,000 consumers across 18 EU-associated countries about how the Covid-19 pandemic had affected theirtrustin the different actors inthe food chain.

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