New research from the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity’s (CCFI) 2021 Public Trust Research Report shows that Canadians are interested in improving the food system as a whole. Through qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, the results demonstrate that consumers are interested in advancing overarching matters of the food system like food affordability, profit driven systems and sustainability, while asking for more transparency.  

The research indicates that of the 2,202 Canadians sampled, the proportion of Canadians who felt that Canada’s food system is headed in the right direction has significantly declined after a considerable improvement in 2020. Most respondents that jumped from the ‘right direction’ option went straight to the ‘don’t know’ category. These results show that consumers are overwhelmed with information and do not know which way to turn. 

“Respondents do not feel they can confidently say that the food system is moving in the right or wrong direction because they simply don’t know what information to trust, explained John Jamieson, President and CEO for the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity. “The information doesn’t appear transparent due to the vast amount of conflicting misinformation.” 

For the first time, climate change and environmental issues have made the top five list of concerns for Canadians. This data demonstrates how environmental concerns influence consumers everyday lives and the importance of a sustainable food system to Canadians.

The research reveals that the global pandemic has not affected trust levels among Canadians. Respondents indicated that they do not feel it was more difficult to access food during the pandemic, with some even saying it was easier. There was minimal mention of empty grocery store shelves with respondents indicating this was only for “hot ticket items”.  

When asking Canadians what a Canadian farmer looks like – responses such as “man”, “older” and “plaid” were prominent answers. These results reflect the imagery that is currently being presented and demonstrate how Canadians view the food system. Results also indicated that respondents do not feel this is representative of the farming community today and an increase in diversity is necessary moving forward. 

Canadians are concerned about the ‘big picture’ of food and themes such as profit driven markets, sustainability and affordability need to be addressed in communication efforts moving forward. The 2021 results provide action items for the food system to share their stories and be transparent to build public trust.