NEW YORK: Four in ten US consumers report changing how they choose food during the past 12 months but few have any more trust as a result.

According to consultancy C Space, which carried out a study of consumer perceptions, 42% are now selecting foodstuffs on a different basis than before, with over half placing emphasis on foods that are healthy (55%), fresh (52%) and nutritional (51%).

Many also cited high quality foods (47%) and natural foods (41%).

"In today's marketplace, consumers are more actively engaged than ever in choosing what foods to buy and what brands to buy them from," said Alan Moskowitz, director at C Space.

In particular, more than three quarters (78%) indicated they were buying brands they know. The importance of brand awareness was clear as this was the highest response, although that in itself is unlikely to be sufficient to persuade consumers about a food.

Only slightly fewer checked the ingredients (76%) and evaluated how healthy the food was (76% again).

Appearance and provenance were also important, as 58% of respondents said they evaluated how natural a food looked while 51% checked where it came from. Some 42% also looked for specific trustworthy claims.

"Given the speed that information travels, brand trust can increase or erode very quickly in consumers' minds," Moskowitz told Ad Week.

"For brands, staying close to their customers can help them stay in touch with evolving attitudes and help them collaborate with consumers on new products, packaging and marketing that earns or maintains trust," he added.

Some food sectors have more work to do than others in this regard. Fruit (77%) and vegetables (76%) were the most trusted markets, while chicken (53%), beef (51%) and pork (45%) were at the other end of the scale.

In between were milk and dairy (65%) and eggs (65%); dry packaged foods (59%) were marginally more trusted than frozen foods (56%).

Despite the changing habits the survey highlighted, only 2% of respondents said they had more trust in the food they bought as a result.

Data sourced from Ad Week; additional content by Warc staff