February 2014 Food Demand Survey (FooDS)

The latest release of the monthly Food Demand Survey (FooDS) is now up.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the Super Bowl earlier this month, consumer willingness-to-pay (WTP) for chicken wings was up 11% this month.  Consumers also appear to be poised to spend more on food away from home this month compared to previous months.  

We repeated a question we asked last month on trust in information about meat and livestock from different sources.  

In particular, we asked, “How trustworthy is information about meat and livestock from the following sources?” Fifteen sources were listed (the order randomly varied across respondents), and respondents had to place five sources in the most trustworthy category and five sources in the least trustworthy category. A scale of importance was created by calculating the proportion of times a meat and livestock information source as ranked most trustworthy minus the proportion of times it was ranked least trustworthy.

This month, we added a question asking how much people knew about each source of potential information (on a 1 to 5 scale).  When you combine those two, the following emerges


People have a high level of trust and knowledge of federal regulatory agencies (USDA and FDA).  Although people say they know companies like McDonald's and Tyson, they place a lower level of relative trust in information about meat and livestock from them.  The New York Times, University professors, and Chipotle have relatively low trust and low knowledge.  

Interestingly, being more familiar with a source does not appear to make one more or less likely to trust the source (the correlation between the two measures is almost zero at 0.03).  

I suppose, as an organization, the "ideal" place to be on this graph is to be highly trusted and well known.  What if an organization wants to become more trustworthy?  I suspect that's harder to do for entities that are already well known - like McDonald's or Tyson.  Plus, anytime one has a vested interest in an outcome, their information is unlikely to be as credible as sources with no (apparent) conflict of interest.  That's why it surprises me a bit University professors don't score a bit higher on the trust scale. Maybe people just don't think we know much about meat and livestock (but that's why I picked two Universities that were likely to differ in this regard).  A lot of open questions here.