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03/10/2021

How confident are Canadians in the food industry?

At the one-year mark of COVID-19, new Dalhousie research paints a positive picture
Shutterstock/Maxx-Studio

For many Canadians, the pandemic caused worries about food—think back to stock shortages and COVID-19 outbreaks at meat-processing plants. But one year after it all began, they’re feeling positive about the food industry.

The Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, in partnership with Caddle, surveyed 10,005 Canadians on their feelings about the food industry on two fronts: confidence (how they feel about current and future economic conditions affecting food systems) and satisfaction (the fulfillment they derive from interacting with the food industry).

Among those surveyed, 72.2% said they have confidence in the safety of their food products, despite the pandemic. On satisfaction, 73.7% of Canadians are satisfied with the safety of their food products, despite the pandemic.

“It’s a pretty positive survey overall,” says Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. “I think the industry is seen as trustworthy and deserves it, too. The industry really performed extremely well, given the pressures. One year later, there’s still relatively little concern about safety, food fraud and food authenticity, which is certainly good news for the industry moving forward.”

Most Canadians are both confident and satisfied with how food products are sustainability produced. Just over 25.1% of Canadians are not confident that food products are produced in a sustainable way (i.e., environmentally friendly, resource efficient, ethically responsible). On satisfaction, the percentage was 24.1.

Only 17.4% of Canadians believe the Canadian food supply chain will not provide enough food for everyone at some point. In addition, 79.6% believe that people who work in the food supply chain care about providing food during the pandemic.

Canadians are not very concerned about food fraud or food mislabelling. Only 18.4% are not confident that food products are authentic, and products are labelled correctly. Some reports in Europe and Asia have suggested that food fraud cases are on the rise due to COVID-19, but it does not appear to worry Canadians at this point, according to the Dalhousie report.

One cautionary note for grocers and manufacturers is on the health front. Only 38.4% of Canadians believe food products sold are healthier than ever.

Charlebois says this points to an opportunity for the food industry. He says once the pandemic is over, people will go back to focusing on things like sustainability and health. “I think a lot of people will want to lose weight and take care of themselves and I suspect that Canadians will want the food industry to partner with them on that journey,” says Charlebois.