The UK has become a nation of consumer sceptics, according to recent research.

A report from independent market analyst Datamonitor, released today (31 March), reveals that less than half - 44% - of the UK population trusts nutritional claims made by food and drink companies.

Some 86% of US and European consumers surveyed also said that they have become more distrustful of corporations within the past five years.

"The consumer packaged goods industry in particular is suffering from a 'trust void'", said Daniel Bone, consumer markets analyst at Datamonitor and author of the report. "These survey statistics are merely a snapshot of the overall negativity that characterises contemporary European and US consumers. Addressing concerns and scepticism with regard to product safety, product efficacy claims, advertising and corporate behaviour will all be crucial.

"These findings should be of considerable concern to the industry," Bone added. "Not only does it undermine attempts to develop relationships with consumers, it also hinders the chances of future new product development."

The report also noted that European consumers are paying more attention to the recommendations of friends and family. In the UK, 72% of respondents consider the recommendations of family and friends 'important' or 'very important' when choosing everyday products and services.

Nearly half of European and US consumers consider the "health advice from associations and professional bodies" to be 'very trustworthy'. Even more notable is the fact that over half - 57% - of European and US consumers consider "health advice from doctors" to be 'very trustworthy'. 

"Given the extent to which consumers trust experts and professional bodies it is important that manufacturers and retailers build relationships with trusted 'expert community'," said Bone.