It found businesses believe the cost of product safety is falling and fewer believe it is a significant issue reflecting increased confidence.
In 2012, the mean increase in production costs to achieve the best product safety standard was 21% but this has now fallen to 14%.
Since 2012, the number of businesses that think product safety is a significant issue has reduced to 25%.
Falling business costs and consumer willingness to pay
“Clearly, businesses believe they have done enough to ensure product safety. Yet at the same time, consumers are placing increasing importance on safety when buying products in all segments and across all countries,” said TÜV SÜD.
The aggregate proportion of consumers willing to pay a safety premium in the food segment increased from 75% in 2012 to 80% in 2016.
Awareness of product safety within the business community has increased.
“Given the business community is reporting a lower cost to ensure safety while more consumers are willing to pay a premium for safe products, there appears to be an opportunity for businesses to increase product safety with a neutral impact on profits and for consumers to have access to products with improved safety standards,” said TÜV SÜD.
The TÜV SÜD Safety Gauge analyses corporate product safety practices as well as consumer attitudes and experiences in children’s products, consumer electronics, food and footwear segments.
Results are based on research in cities across China, India, the US and Germany. Findings are drawn from surveys of a representative sample of over 3,500 consumers and more than 600 business decision makers.
Allergic reactions frequently reported
The importance of product safety when buying food rose from 50% to 68% saying it was very important.
The product safety issues that consumers experienced most frequently were allergic reactions (28%) with 16% reporting food poisoning.
Results show consumers are particularly sensitive to safety issues where animal products are concerned.
In the food segment, consumers were most concerned about milk, dairy and eggs (84%), and raw meat and fish (76%).
Consumers’ definition of product safety in foods relates to the quality of ingredients used, meeting product standards and safety of chemicals used.
“Consumers are particularly sensitive to safety issues in relation to animal-based products, and regard these products as potentially harbouring risks,” said Dr Ron Wacker, food expert at TÜV SÜD product service.
Risks associated with these products are chiefly caused by incorrect storage. However, cases of ill-health caused by harmful foods show that infections such as Salmonella poisoning are also triggered by vegetable products such as fruit, vegetables and nuts.
“This often happens when crops are infected by microorganisms from natural fertilisers or from the water used for their irrigation,” added Dr Wacker.