- Food and beverage information is becoming increasingly more accessible thanks to the Internet and social media, but consumers may not always be trusting reliable sources of information, according to survey results from the International Food Information Council (IFIC), presented at the International Sweetener Symposium.
- Millennials trust a wide range of sources for information about which foods they should eat: their personal healthcare professionals (68%); friends or family members (41%); health, food and nutrition bloggers (33%); and U.S. government agencies (28%).
- Based on the survey's results, IFIC concluded that consumers want more than "just the facts" when it comes to food and beverage product information. Manufacturers need to be cognizant of how they label and talk about products because consumers are listening. And manufacturers may need to use different communication methods for different audiences.
According to CFI's survey, consumers prefer engaging with their friends and family members about food information using non-online channels. And with 41% of consumers seeking food information from friends and family, that represents a significant opportunity for manufacturers to find a way to become part of offline conversations.
It's part of the reason TV and even print ads are still an important component in many manufacturers' advertising strategies—particularly during times like the Olympics or the Super Bowl—even though digital has become an increasingly critical focus for food and beverage marketers.
Bloggers also represent an opportunity and challenge for manufacturers. Food and health bloggers are becoming trusted, go-to sources of information for a growing number of consumers, particularly among parents. If manufacturers can earn the trust of these bloggers, they in turn can earn the trust of the bloggers' readership.
In some cases, such as Vani Hari, better known as Food Babe, bloggers are also pushing for change in the food industry. This has caused several companies in recent years to adjust ingredients in their products due to overwhelming and visible support for bloggers' petitions in public forums like websites and social media.
Sometimes mediating messages from varying food sources means damage control. Misinformation travels just as quickly as science-based facts online, so manufacturers may have to monitor different information sources and step in when necessary to respond to consumer feedback.