Half of consumers worry about the safety of fresh, perishable and frozen foods while they are transported to stores, according to a survey.

Software and engineering firm Emerson asked nearly 1,000 people in the U.S. about their perception and expectation of food safety practices.

Results show food quality and the technologies that keep food safe have become increasingly important to consumers. People are increasing their food safety focus and changing shopping habits during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Emerson.

Customers consider the quality and freshness of their foods; proper storage of refrigerated and frozen foods; and whether stores use the latest technology to keep food safe during transportation as some of the main factors driving shopping decisions.

Increased food safety concern
Nearly two out of three consumers agree better technology has a role to play in keeping food safe and more than half said better data is needed to track food safety practices from farm to table.

More than 5 in 10 consumers said they’d be less likely to shop from stores that aren’t using — and having suppliers use — the latest technologies to keep food safe.

Emerson’s survey also revealed safety concerns during COVID-19 have led to a shift in purchasing habits and shopping frequency for many people.

Half of consumers said they are now more concerned about the safety of their food. Almost half said they now shop in person much less frequently.

Nearly 6 out of 10 consumers said COVID-19 has made them want to support local businesses when they shop and 4 in 10 said the way they shop has changed permanently.

“These survey results confirm that consumers are just as concerned about food safety as we are. The challenges and habit changes of COVID-19 have shined a spotlight on the critical goal of providing higher-quality, safer food for consumers across the country,” said John Rhodes, group president of cold chain for Emerson.

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