Covid-19 and food safety – Communication with consumers

Communication of food safety measures to consumers during the covid-19 crisis. An opportunity for the food manufacturers to improve consumer trust.

At present, many consumers are worried about the food supply and how safe food is. Can the coronavirus be transmitted through the food supply and food processing chain? Do people have to decontaminate food packaging material before they can take the food out?

Before I propose a possible way forward, allow me to explain what drove me to write this post: in these difficult days, I could be dedicating my free time to relax from the craziness with my hobbies and improving my skills for future use in my business. But I cannot focus. My head keeps spinning around all the information on the latest developments about the covid-19, how people are coping with the situation and how companies are doing everything possible to ensure what is needed now, the supply of safe foods and sanitary materials. And most of all, I am thinking about the consumers and my family, especially my parents, who are in the high-risk group. I have the need to help others now and de-prioritized other aspects. Analyzing the situation over the past days, and I have a few ideas that I would like to share with companies and government agencies, who could implement them.

Let’s take a look at the details:

Companies are taking measures along the food supply chain to strengthen existing hygiene practices. This information is shared with the professionals along the chain. However, the information about these measures are not reaching the consumer. There is a need to calm consumers down, to relief them from part of the uncertainty by reassuring them that food businesses are doing everything possible to keep providing safe foods.

The advertising segment is one of the many that is being negatively impacted by the necessary restrictions in place to control the pandemic. Many companies do not see the need to advertise products and services when they cannot be sold. Advertising is one of the main sources of income of communication services. And we really need to stay informed (as well as entertained) during the long days we have to stay at home.

Is it possible for these industries to support each other, in a synergistic way? I think that there is a great opportunity, and above all, a meaningful purpose.

The fact that the people are confined to home, means that they are spending more time watching television, listening to the radio and connected to internet. I think that these channels are offering a great opportunity to reach out to the consumer, to tell them that you care and that you and your employees are making everything possible to ensure that the food they eat is safe. This is not exactly about your products but about the opportunity to show the values of your brand. You could contribute to bring the peace of mind that we all need on these difficult times.

I do not want to use the term “advertise”, I would rather say use those advertising slots to educate, entertain, and to say that you are helping others through initiatives. Talk to the consumers directly without intermediaries and contribute to reduce all the false rumors that are circulating.

Communicate what is important for the consumer

Communication considerations

  • Use clear messages tailored for the different audiences: children, adults, seniors.
  • An idea is to work with your suppliers and your customers (show your collaboration efforts).

Communication content

  • Show empathy, understanding, be kind, be positive, be hopeful and helpful.
  • Tell and show the measures you are taking to ensure food safety (production, transport, delivery). For example, your employees working with protective clothes, and following the recommendations made by authorities like keeping the distance.
  • Use the opportunity to educate: indicate how to wash hands, how to handle the food during shopping and at home, show your best practices. Also, provide advice how to handle packaged foods from delivery services.
  • Show that how you are helping others through initiatives and collaborations.
  • Prepare quizzes, use animated characters, animated infographics, show real pictures/videos from your facilities and your personnel.

Food industry can benefit from this opportunity by building trust with consumers, and consumers will benefit from the reassurance.

These ideas and suggestions are not only applicable to the food chain, but they can be applied to other market segments, too.

Article first published in

Publication date

8 October, 2020

Article author

Carmen Diaz-Amigo

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