Canadians' trust in our food system grows during pandemic

Every year the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) asks Canadians how they feel about the country’s agriculture and food systems. The 2020 report,  Trends in Trust & The Path Forward, shows that the proportion of Canadians who feel that the food system is headed in the right direction has reached a five-year high, despite the pandemic.

President and CEO of CCFI, John Jamieson, recently joined Bernard Tobin to discuss the history of the public trust survey and its objectives.

“This is the fifth year of the study that the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity lead,” says Jamieson. “This year we surveyed 2,903 Canadians across Canada [regarding] their concerns of food security. The objective of the study is to provide industry with insight into what Canadians are thinking — what issues are top of mind for them, how do we connect with the consumer, what types of information are they looking for, and where are they seeking that information.”

Canadians have also praised how the food system adjusted and adapted during the early days of COVID-19. Almost nine out of ten Canadians are still confident that the food system will adapt and keep food on the table, says Jamieson, as parts of Canada are entering second or even third waves of the pandemic.

Out of the top issues of concern to Canadians — ranging from the federal deficit, to health care costs, to keeping healthy food affordable — the cost of food has been at the top of the priority list for the last four years, and is again this year, says Jamieson. Not only is it the cost of food that’s a concern, but also as a direct result of the pandemic, 51 per cent of the Canadians surveyed said they now have less money to spend on food, according to the report.

“We asked Canadians what they think about when they hear the term sustainability, and people are pretty well all over the map, but many equate it with environmental stewardship, food loss and waste, or local, those types of things,” says Jamieson.

In terms of sustainability from a farmer’s perspective, the key takeaway from the report’s results are that Canadians really trust farmers, and most people think that farmers are good stewards of the environment and are conscious around food safety.

Hear the full conversation between Jamieson and Tobin, including findings on antibiotic use in livestock production, and Canadians overall confidence in the food system, and the food system’s further response to the pandemic.

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