Canadians are most concerned with the rising cost of food and the affordability of healthy food for the third year in a row, according to research released by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI), Canada.

When asked to rate their level of concern on a number of issues ranging from healthcare, economy and unemployment to climate change and rising energy costs, Canadians indicated they're most concerned about the rising cost of food (67%). Keeping healthy food affordable was rated second, together with rising energy costs and rising health care costs, both at 63%. Rounding out the Top 5 concerns for Canadians was the safety of food imported from outside of Canada at 55%.

"The results tell us today's consumers are not only looking for affordable food options, [but] they are also unsure about many aspects about food and the food system and are looking to know more from credible sources," says Crystal Mackay, president.

Four in 10 Canadians are unsure if the food system is headed in the right direction. After a significant increase in 2017, survey results show a sizable drop in the number of consumers who feel Canada's food system is headed in the right direction – just over one third (36%) in 2018 compared to 43% in 2017.

The overall impression of agriculture in Canada also decreased for the first time in 12 years, falling from 61% in 2016 to 56% in the latest survey. This follows a steady increase since 2006. The decline in positive impressions is driven by a significant increase in Canadians who say they don't know enough about agriculture and food to have an opinion (12% in 2018, compared to only 2% in 2016).

"This research demonstrates that the food system can't take trust for granted; it must be earned," says Mackay. "Canadians desire balanced, credible information about food, so they can feel confident in their decisions for themselves and their families. It's up to the entire food chain to turn up the volume and efforts to openly share information about food and how it's produced, processed and packaged with consumers."

The web-based survey was completed in July by 1,509 respondents who reflect the general Canadian consumer population aged 18 or older.