Australian egg industry continues to build trust

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The COVID-19 pandemic has boosted Australians’ appreciation of food security and safety, with trust in the $1.8 billion egg sector significantly up compared to this time last year.

The third and final of a three-year national survey by CSIRO, commissioned by the Australian Egg Industry, showed year-on-year trust of the egg industry had risen — with 64 per cent of Australians expressing trust in the industry to “act responsibly”.

Trust in the industry across all measures has risen an average of 4 per cent each year from the baseline 2018 national survey, with more than 6 in 10 Australians this year saying that they trust the egg industry to act responsibly (64.2 per cent) and do what is right (62.8 per cent).

Average levels of trust (3.72) is higher relative to trust levels across Australia’s rural industries sector overall (3.42).

The average levels of trust figure is four per cent higher than last year’s results, which researchers have somewhat attributed to this year’s survey co-coinciding with the coronavirus pandemic with data collected between April and May.

According to the research, 75 per cent of Australians said the COVID-19 pandemic had made them more aware of the importance of food security in Australia, with 86 per cent agreeing producing eggs for Australia was an essential service, and 80 per cent agreed having a safe, reliable supply of eggs was comforting during the pandemic.

For the past three years, CSIRO has conducted an annual, national public survey of Australian community perspectives on a range of issues related to the egg industry.

With Australians eating about 245 eggs a person annually, Australian Eggs managing director Rowan McMonnies said the findings showed trust had increased due to responsiveness to community concerns.

He said the egg industry was a strong case study other industries could learn from.

“The CSIRO delivered a recipe for success and the industry has responded with tangible solutions that reflect priorities identified by the community,” he said.

“Having trust to increase again this year will add momentum to the process.”

Four in five Australians surveyed said having a “safe, reliable supply of eggs was 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 had 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 the Australian egg industry was 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.

There are 22 million laying hens nationwide, producing about 17 million eggs daily for Australia’s 277 egg farming enterprises.

WA hosts 11 per cent of Australia’s flock.

CSIRO senior research scientist Kieran Moffatt said this year’s data was important for several reasons, but primarily because it showed that trust in the industry had improved during the past three years.

“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,” he said.

“It is clear 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.

“This new research shows that right now, for Australians, providing safe, nutritious, affordable and secure food staples, like eggs, is more important than ever.”

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

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