FSA Strategy 2015-2020: omnibus survey and citizens' forums

Last updated:
30 September 2014
To better understand consumers’ concerns in relation to food and represent their interests in FSA policy, we carried out consumer research and used the results to inform the development of our strategy for 2015-2020.

The research included an omnibus survey with 2,060 adults to better understand the public perspective to inform the development of the strategy and to understand what is most important to the public in terms of the food they eat. After the omnibus survey, we held a number of citizens' forums to explore consumers’ interests in depth and enable consumers to deliberate on complex or challenging issues and capture strength of feeling in relation to a comprehensive list of consumer concerns. The list was based on a review of past research including the Food and You survey; the FSA’s Biannual Tracker survey and previous citizens’ forums.

Omnibus survey

We conducted the online omnibus survey with 2,060 adults aged 16 and over across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in January 2014.

Main findings

The main findings were:

  • It is clear that the public is more concerned about having a healthy diet (12%) and processed food/preparing meals from scratch (11%) than any other single issue.
    • The cost of healthy eating also ranks highly as an issue (9%).
  • When asked to choose which food-related topics were important to them, worries about food safety and hygiene (85%) and affordability (84%) were the most common.
    • When asked to rank the topics on importance, these two topics were ranked as most important.
  • However, relatively less interest was shown for the environmental impact of food (66%) and food technology (63%) in comparison to the other topics.
  • Over a third (38%) worry about the safety of the food they eat.
  • Food fraud & lack of authenticity (61%), food technology (55%) and food safety & hygiene (53%) are considered to be the top 3 issues falling within the responsibility of the government.
    • The public wish to see the government prioritise these three topics the most.
    • Although the public deem freedom of choice important, they do not believe it is the responsibility of the government.
  • When asked what issues respondents would like to see the government take greater responsibility for in the next 5-10 years, 64% gave no answer.
    • Food safety, cost and promotion of British food top the list but each has just 5% of mentions.
  • 93% are familiar with the FSA, with 37% ‘familiar to some extent’, and 58% saying they know just the name. 6 % have never heard of the FSA.

Citizens' forums

The citizens’ forums used reconvened focus groups to explore consumers’ interests in depth and enable consumers to deliberate on complex or challenging issues.

Key aims

The forums had three key aims:

  • Establish, explore and prioritise consumer concerns in relation to food – including food safety but also other interests raised by consumers (eg food price healthy eating, trust in the food industry and food chain management).
  • Explore and challenge consumer expectations regarding the FSA and government responsibilities for safeguarding consumer interests in relation to food – including any variations from the FSA’s current remit and strategic priorities.
  • Reflect on how consumer interests and concerns are changing, potential influencing factors, and any implications for the FSA’s strategy and priorities from 2015-2020.