What Russians think about food safety in retail: Nielsen survey
The new Russian government enactment that cancels obligatory certification of the majority of food and cosmetic products is aimed at boosting business, decrease bureaucratization and the costs of the promotion of goods into the market. At the same time now it will take more efforts to reassure skeptical Russian consumers that the food they are purchasing is safe. According to the Nielsen global online survey, Russians are among the most dissatisfied nations with the safety of food that they buy: only 32% say that they are confident in the safety of food they purchase from their local stores. And notwithstanding the recession and general trading down trend, two thirds say they are willing to pay premium for safe food.
With the changes in the consumer goods market regulation which came into effect on February 15, 2010 in Russia, the main responsibility for quality and food safety will be placed upon manufacturers who can now prove the safety of their goods based on their own tests or voluntary certification with the independent testing laboratories.
Nielsen’s Global Online Survey has found out that seven in ten (71%) Russians hold the manufacturers responsible for providing safe food. Around 25% think that the government has the main responsibility for providing them with safe products, and only 4% think that it is retailers’ main responsibility.
“Our survey shows that Russians are very careful of where they make purchases from and mostly tend to go by the name of the manufacturer,” said Dwight Watson.
With 33%, food manufacturers are the second most trusted entity in case of a food safety issue, according to the survey, while 46% of Russians trust the media the most when a food safety scare arises. This is not surprising, as it is due to the media the problems in food supply chains and the issues with food safety and various types of fraudulent practices were brought into the light in 2009 in Russia. And only 10% trust retailers to tell them when they are skeptic about food safety.
But with the changes in the food certification rules and increasing consumers’ concerns regarding the safety of food, it is very likely that soon retailers will accept to share this responsibility with manufacturers to provide food safety.
"Through our survey we received an important message from consumers to manufacturers and retailers. Consumers want to be able to trust the products they buy. For 51% of Russians guaranteed safety of food is important in their decision where they shop, and 71% of Russians are ready to pay premium for food that is safe,” said Dwight Watson. “It is clear that freshness and safety of food can have all the chances to come a strong competitive advantage”.
Meanwhile, nearly two thirds of Russians (67%) believe that they are responsible for the safety of food they consume at home. To avoid the health problems Russians take care of what they buy and eat, with only 21% willing to eat food past best before date even if it looks and smells alright.
To ensure they buy safe products Russians also actively try to buy organic food (“ecologically-clean”) food (51%) and locally-produced products (75%). The most important reason why Russians buy locally made products is because they think that they are better for their families and by buying local food they are supporting the local producers and farmers.
“Our surveys show consumers don't always have the information they need to make safe choices,” said Dwight Watson. “There is need for government and retail and FMCG industry collaboration in food safety efforts to meet Russia consumer demand, and most important is educating consumers and delivering trustworthy information on what is safe for them”.
Another Nielsen’s Survey on Food Labeling and Nutritional Information on Grocery Packaging showed, that while 68 percent of online consumers in Russia say they take notice of the nutritional information on packaging more now, only 38% say they mostly understand food labels.
About the Nielsen Global Online Survey on Food Safety
The Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Survey was conducted between in October-November, 2009 among online consumers in 54 countries including Russia to study their attitude towards food safety and its influence on grocery store and brand choice. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%.