Baromètre de la confiance des consommateurs québécois à l’égard des aliments -3e édition

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The Quebec government's Biofood Policy places consumer expectations and health at the heart of its priorities for the coming years. Offering products that meet consumer needs is one of the main orientations defined to achieve the ambitions and targets of this policy.

In this context, CIRANO's Baromètre de la confiance des consommateurs québécois à l'égard des aliments (Barometer of Quebec consumers' confidence in food) is an important and highly useful decision-making tool for the various departments of the Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ), as well as for all stakeholders in the bio-food sector. Conducted on a regular basis, the Barometer enables us to identify trends and take into account the changing context in which Quebecers make food choices.
As was the case with the first edition in 2019, the 2023 Barometer provides rich, timely and unprecedented information on a range of issues related to consumer confidence in food. It also identifies priority actions for the government, for example, to increase food literacy. 

This third edition of the Barometer is based on a survey administered from February 5 to 11, 2023 to a representative sample of 1,004 people. The report provides detailed descriptive statistics, as well as the results of univariate and multivariate statistical analyses. These analyses are used, for example, to assess whether the results show significant variations according to certain socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents, such as gender, age, region of residence or income.

Some highlights:
The results of the 3rd edition of the Baromètre de la confiance des consommateurs québécois à l'égard des aliments, conducted in 2023, clearly show that inflation is having an impact on purchasing behavior. Eating habits seem to be gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels, but online grocery shopping continues to attract sustained interest, while the popularity of home-cooked meals remains high. In addition, although less pronounced, interest in local products remains strong. In addition, respondents' perception of their food skills and knowledge of food labeling and certification has declined over the editions. 

The changes in eating habits observed in the Barometer can be explained by the current inflationary context; 80% of the population is concerned about the price of food, making it the number one concern out of the 38 issues studied. To cope with this inflation, Quebecers are implementing various strategies. They're opting to buy products on special, reducing their restaurant visits, preferring discount banners, reducing food waste and favoring the purchase of private labels. 
The fact that Quebecers attribute rising prices primarily to food companies (mainly processors and retailers) rather than to economic conditions affects their level of confidence in the sector. Whether we're talking about confidence in places of purchase, in the origin of food, in companies in the sector, in regulations or even in labelling, we almost always observe the same pattern testifying to a certain effect of the pandemic: while confidence had greatly increased between 2019 and 2021, it decreased between 2021 and 2023. Despite this, biofood companies still enjoy a relatively high level of confidence among Quebecers, particularly agricultural companies. In addition, Quebecers remain concerned about environmental issues and animal welfare, despite an overall decrease in their level of concern since 2019.

At first glance, therefore, Quebecers appear to be adopting a more critical attitude towards the biofood sector compared to the last edition of the Barometer in February 2021. The Barometer's overall indicator of confidence in food is down sharply, from 71% of respondents who had a high level of confidence in food in 2021 to 59% this year. 
In this context, it becomes essential to strengthen the food literacy of the Quebec population, especially since the Barometer data show that high skills and knowledge about food are directly linked to increased confidence in food.
It's important for all players in the bio-food sector to work together and improve communication about their practices. This will help increase Quebecers' confidence in food, and improve the bio-food sector overall, in the interests of consumers and bio-food businesses alike, promoting Quebec's prosperity and sustainability.

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