SGS Food Safety Services help business build consumer trust

With studies showing a lack of consumer trust in food labelling, SGS food safety services are providing businesses with the means to build confidence by ensuring quality in food and food packaging.

the supermarket experience, SGS INSTITUT FRESENIUS Quality Seal

The quality awareness of foodstuffs and consumer trust study, conducted by SGS INSTITUT FRESENIUS, showed that consumers were particularly concerned about appropriate labelling of food additives and of genetically modified foods. Around half of consumers expressed concerns related to deceptive packaging and potentially false labelling on supermarket products.


In the 2010 study conducted by the prestigious Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach for SGS INSTITUT FRESENIUS, face to face interviews were conducted with 1.827 consumers aged 16 and over. Part of an annual survey of German customer satisfaction, the SGS INSTITUT FRESENIUS this year focused on consumer awareness, with a particular interest in product information reliability, quality awareness, perception of foodstuffs and product orientation during shopping.


Food Labelling Concerns


The study identified a number of particular difficulties and concerns related to food labelling and additives for German consumers. Understanding of food labelling was a problem, with around half of consumers having no understanding of food packaging information. For those over age 45 or without a post-secondary education, these difficulties were particularly apparent. Confidence in labelling also was an issue, with 48% of consumers suspicious that listed ingredients are either incomplete or hide important information. Similarly, 50% of consumers believe that the health claims manufacturers make about their products are not completely truthful. Consumers had similar worries related to the possibility of products containing unlisted genetically modified ingredients. The biggest fear however, for around half of all consumers, is of product information that is entirely misleading. Such shoppers would for example be concerned that they might buy a strawberry jam that didn’t contain strawberries.


Consumer Identification of Healthy Food


Identification of healthy food options presents particular difficulties. With a quarter of consumers finding it more difficult to follow a healthy diet than was the case in previous studies, the SGS INSTITUT FRESENIUS study suggests that problems with food packaging are a key part of the problem. For instance, half of consumers are unable to determine whether particular additives are present in food products, and when it comes to identification of products suitable for diabetics or those with allergies, two thirds are unable to tell.


Troublingly, many consumers had problems identifying foods as suitable for children. In excess of 70% of those studied were unable to identify foods as appropriate for children on the basis of packaging. The study notes that in relation to purchasing decisions, men rated pricing as slightly more important overall than food product quality. In contrast, for women (63%) food quality was the most important consideration influencing food-buying choices.


Trusting Quality Seals and Family – Mistrust in the Industry


When making food-buying decisions, German consumers put a relatively high degree of trust in independent test institutions (73%) and advice centres (63%), as well as appraisals from within the personal sphere, especially family and friends (55%). Furthermore, at least one third of consumers recognize and have confidence in independent test quality seals.


However, a high degree of mistrust exists among consumers in statements from policy makers and from the food industry. Trust in information presented by health policy makers and consumer protection is especially low, and when it comes to the reliability of supermarket advertising and claims presented by food manufacturers, nine in ten consumers believe packaging to be misleading.


With 38% of consumers believing current food quality controls in Germany to be insufficient, it is evident that fear of misleading packaging and mistrust in food policy and the food industry requires a solution. Given the findings of the SGS INSTITUT FRESENIUS study, it would seem that reinforced controls of the food sector could be the best solution.


Bio Trend Topped by Regional Foods


A range of factors affect the way German consumers make product selections, with the relevant criteria varying from one consumer to the next. An increased interest in sustainability means that regional production is now a significant factor for 47% of shopper, who are interested in buying more locally produced products. This contrasts with a 23% interest in purchasing ecological or bio products. This figure may coincide with a decrease in trust in the “Bio Siegel” (organic seal) product labelling introduced by the government. Healthy food remains an interest, with almost half of consumers interested in buying low fat and non-genetically modified foods. However, trust in labelling has been lost, particularly as the community has grown aware that foods labelled as organic are in half of all cases not organic at all.


In response, it has become apparent that the industry must work to regain the trust of consumers. Steps that can be taken to bring about this vital change include a tightening of market surveillance by food industry regulators, as well as more easily understood product labelling and greater food quality visibility.


Food quality and packaging processes can be improved with the assistance of SGS Food Safety Services. For more information contact:


Contact details:


SGS Consumer Testing Services

Anke Teichgräber

Product Manager Approval & Certification Marks, Quality Seal &

License Agreements - SGS INSTITUT FRESENIUS GmbH

Raboisen 28 D-20095 Hamburg, Germany


Phone number: +49 40 570 1974 12

E-mail address:



The SGS Group is the global leader and innovator in inspection, verification, testing and certification services. Founded in 1878, SGS is recognized as the global benchmark in quality and integrity. With 59,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,000 offices and laboratories around the world.

Press contact

portrino GmbH
Maxstraße 10
D-01067 Dresden


phone: +49-351-500 95 74
fax: +49-351-500 95 71