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Research shows egg industry continues to build trust amid COVID-19

76% of Australians say COVID-19 pandemic has made them more aware of the importance of food security

by Sarah Mikesell
30 September 2020, at 1:00am

A new report from Australia’s CSIRO reveals that Australians’ trust in the egg industry has increased again this year and the COVID-19 pandemic has made them more aware of the importance of food security in Australia.

Trust in the industry across all measures has risen an average of 4% each year from the baseline 2018 national survey, with more than 6 in 10 Australians in 2020 saying that they trust the egg industry to act responsibly (64.2%) and do what is right (62.8%). More than half (57.3%) of the 5,008 Australians surveyed in 2020 also said they trust the industry to act in the best interests of society. Moreover, average levels of trust (3.72) is higher relative to trust levels across Australia’s rural industries sector overall (3.42)[i].

  • In 2020 there has been a significant increase in trust in the egg industry, with all measures rising an average of 4 points year-on-year from 2018
  • More than 6 in 10 Australians have expressed trust in the egg industry to act responsibly which has risen by 4% since 2019
  • 4 in 5 Australians say that ‘having a safe, reliable supply of eggs is comforting’ during the pandemic

For the third year in a row, the main driver of trust in the egg industry was its responsiveness to community concerns, which has significantly improved year on year from 2018 to 2020. Responsiveness ratings of the industry rose again, this time to a greater degree than previous years, with 69 per cent of Australians agreeing that the Australian egg industry is prepared to change its practices in response to community concerns, up from 64.4 per cent in 2019 and 61.4 per cent in 2018. In 2020, 69.2 per cent of Australians also agreed that the Australian egg industry listens to and respects community opinions, up from 62.7 per cent in 2019 and 61.5 per cent in 2018.

Dr Kieren Moffat, CSIRO Senior Research Scientist, said “In 2018, Australian Eggs engaged the CSIRO to bring the voice of the Australian community into the heart of the Australian egg industry. Over the subsequent three years, we have conducted a comprehensive annual national survey of Australian community perspectives on a range of issues related to the egg industry.”

“The 2020 data was important for several reasons. Chief among these was to determine if changes observed between 2018 and 2019 continued in the same direction through 2020. In 2020, the key finding from our work was that trust and acceptance in the Australian egg industry improved significantly once again, making that a consistent and statistically significant trend over time.”

Impact of COVID-19

This year, the timing of the survey coincided with one of the most challenging times for our country and the world, the COVID-19 pandemic. Data collection occurred between April and May and offered an opportunity to take account of and document the impacts of the pandemic on community attitudes towards the egg industry.

According to the research, 3 in 4 (75.8%) Australians said that the COVID-19 pandemic has made them more aware of the importance of food security in Australia, with 4 in 5 agreeing that producing eggs for Australia is an essential service (86.2%), and that ‘having a safe, reliable supply of eggs is comforting’ during the pandemic (80.5%).

First, at the time of data collection 33% of participants in the representative sample of Australians indicated that the pandemic had affected them personally ‘very much’ or ‘a great deal’, and 39% that they were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ worried about COVID-19.

Next we asked about food safety and security. 80.5% of participants indicated agreement that ‘having a safe, reliable supply of eggs is comforting’ during the pandemic, and 87.8% that Australia’s ‘strong food safety standards give me confidence’ that the country can maintain its supply of food during this challenging period.

A majority of participants (58.8%) also indicated agreement that shortages of eggs on supermarket shelves made them feel anxious, while 86.2% of participants indicated agreement that ‘producing eggs for Australia is an essential service’ (see figure below).

© CSIRO

“It’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased community awareness of the importance of food safety and security in Australia. But what we can also see is that on key measures like community trust, the 2020 data continues a positive trend for the egg industry independent of the effects of the pandemic,” said Dr Moffat.

“This new research shows that right now, for Australians, providing safe, nutritious, affordable and secure food staples, like eggs, is more important than ever. We know the role of eggs in the Australian diet is important, with 85% of Australians relying on eggs as an important staple food, but community members are also very invested in how safe those eggs are,” said Mr McMonnies.

The research found that Australians felt that egg production standards remain high in the country, with 86% of Australians agreeing that eggs produced in Australia adhere to strict food safety standards and 84% agreeing that the response of the Australia egg industry to outbreaks of Salmonella are effective in protecting public health.

“The Australian egg industry is extremely proactive in working with authorities to ensure that there are strong food safety and biosecurity measures in place,” said Mr McMonnies.

The research is the third annual cycle of community engagement to inform the Australian Egg Industry Sustainability Framework.

For more information and to read the full report here.