German food industry struggles with PR crisis

Demonstration vor den Toren von Capri-Sonne

The Goldener Windbeutel is presented to Capri-Sonne

Horse meat, scraps of metal in pizzas, and the scandal about eggs from battery hens in ready-to-eat meals – the list of current food scandals is long.  And shoppers are less likely to just shrug them off, egded on by experienced consumer rights campaigners such as Foodwatch. The new GPRA Trust Index clearly shows that consumers have increasingly lost trust. In the first months of the year 2013 alone, the food industry lost more than 13 per cent of consumers’ trust. This is the largest loss by any industry since the start of the survey in 2009.

In the trust ranking of German industry sectors, the food industry used to be a champion but is now reduced to the back seats with 36.3 index points. Looking at the losses in detail, the latest food scandals had a direct influence on all five dimensions of confidence examined by the survey. The biggest drop that the food industry suffered was regarding competence and quality: This index value stands at 37.1 points (minus 19.4 per cent) – only the finance sector comes out worse.

„The results show: From a consumer’s point of view one scandal is chasing the other. The ensuing uncertainty is reflected in a clear drop of trust”,  says Uwe A. Kohrs, president of the GPRA: „The food industry still hasn’t managed to get out of this downward spiral.“ Campaigns such as Foodwatch’s recent presentation of the “Goldener Windbeutel” (“golden profiterole”) to Capri-Sonne – a drinks brand, are just the icing on the PR-crisis cake of the whole industry.

Other than in previous years, Foodwatch this year named and shamed not the advertising lie of the year, but the most brazen marketing trick to children.  While from 2009 to 2012, the NGO focused on false labelling, they now want to spotlight the problem of child malnutrition and the responsibility of the food industry when marketing to children.

But also the general climate of trust worsened by 3.3 per cent in Germany. The car industry remains the front runner, followed by a new runner-up: the health industry. Hospitals and doctors enjoy a plus of 1.5 per cent, which makes them the biggest winners of the index this year, with the finance industry trailing at the back of Germany’s trust index.  Every half year, the GPRA Trust Index Shows a representative status quo of the German population’s trust in major sectors of industry. It looks like there is more than ever a need for credible brand pr and communication of values.

 

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