Consumer satisfaction with food manufacturing has dipped since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) reveals.

Based on a survey conducted between October 2019 and September 2020, the ACSI’s Nondurable Products Report 2019-2020 shows customer satisfaction with the entire nondurables sector has dropped from last year, slipping 1.5 percent to 79.2 on the index’s 100-point scale. Nearly 90 percent of major manufacturers saw year-over-year downturns in their ACSI scores. 

Food manufacturing’s overall score slumped 3.7 percent from 82 the previous year to 79 this year. The ACSI attributed the decline to “large drops in consumer perceptions of both quality and value.”

“While consumers still view the nondurables industries more favorably than others, the sector’s grip over the index isn’t as tight as it once was,” says David VanAmburg, managing director at the ACSI. “Shopping patterns shifted almost overnight as customers stocked pantries during the early stages of the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak. The resulting supply chain issues and shortages led food processors and beverage makers alike to trim their product offerings and focus on core products to meet unprecedented demand. Unfortunately, they didn’t do enough to balance customer expectations.”

The report added food manufacturers were “already facing headwinds” pre-pandemic as consumer preferences shifted away from processed foods. While the early stages of the pandemic returned focus to comfort foods, convenience and pantry stock-up, this trend is not likely to remain permanent, the ACSI noted.

In fact, every major manufacturer measured saw a drop in its ASCI score. 

Quaker leads the pack with a 2020 score of 82. Vying for the No. 2 spot are Dole, Hershey and Mars with a score of 81. In 2019, Hershey scored 84, putting it in the top spot, while Mars scored 82. Ferrero dropped from 81 to 78, and Kellogg dipped from 80 to 78.

Company 2019 2020 % change
Food manufacturing 82 79 -3.7
Quaker (PepsiCo) 84 82 -2
Dole 83 81 -2
Hershey 84 81 -4
Mars 82 81 -1
All others 84 79 -6
Conagra 81 79 -2
General Mills 82 78 -5
Kellogg 80 78 -3
Ferrero 81 78 -4
Tyson 80 78 -3
Campbell Soup 81 77 -5
Kraft Heinz 81 77 -5

Source: ACSI Nondurable Products Report 2019-2020

The ACSI has been a national economic indicator for 25 years. It measures and analyzes customer satisfaction with more than 400 companies in 47 industries and 10 economic sectors, including various services of federal and local government agencies. Reported on a scale of 0 to 100, scores are based on data from interviews with roughly 500,000 customers annually.