The Center for Food Integrity earlier this month released results of its latest consumer survey, providing a roadmap for building transparency and trust in agriculture and the food system.
The results work to define transparency in the arena of agriculture and develop a clear path for producers and processors to address growing public skepticism about food.
"This research defines transparency and provides direction for how to use transparency to build trust," explained Charlie Arnot, CFI CEO. "Implementing this new model will help companies and organizations build trust with their stakeholders and consumers."
The study, which tested CFI's 33 attributes of the seven elements of its "trust-building transparency" model, found that all earned ratings of between 8 and10 on a 10-point scale.
Those elements include:
Motivation – Act in a manner that is ethical and consistent with stakeholder interests.
Disclosure – Share publicly all information, both positive and negative.
Stakeholder Participation – Engage those interested in your activities or impact.
Relevance – Share information stakeholders deem relevant.
Clarity – Share information that is easily understood and easily obtained.
Credibility – Share positive and negative information that supports informed stakeholder decision making and have a history of operating with integrity.
Accuracy – Share information that is truthful, objective, reliable and complete.
More importantly, CFI said, women and early-adopting opinion leaders, who drive public discussion of food and farming issues, rated the elements of Trust-Building Transparency higher than others.
CFI said the findings show that opinion-leading consumers and those most concerned about food issues have provided clear direction on exactly what the industry can do to overcome bias and skepticism and earn trust.
CFI research also confirmed consumer bias against "big food."
"Consumers believe that mass production creates more opportunity for error, that industrialized food production is inherently impersonal, and that big companies will put profits ahead of public interest," Arnot explained. "This research shows the 'big is bad' bias can be overcome with Trust-Building Transparency."
CFI is finalizing a process to help companies and organizations implement the Trust-Building Transparency model, and will work with companies and organizations to implement the program beginning in the first quarter of 2014.
CFI member organizations include the American Farm Bureau, National Pork Board and the United Soybean Board, among others.
For more, visit www.foodintegrity.org.