Customer satisfaction with food companies declines

by Staff
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ANN ARBOR, MICH. — Customer satisfaction with food companies declined 2%, according to the third-quarter report of the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The index for food companies came in at 81 on a 100-point scale, marking the first decline since 2005.

For all industries, customer satisfaction also decreased for the first time since early 2005. The overall index came in at 75.2, down 0.1% compared with the previous quarter. Despite the decline, the index is still 1% higher than it was a year ago.

"The dip in A.C.S.I. is largely attributable to higher food prices, and despite employment growth and holiday discount pricing, consumer spending is unlikely to match last year’s fourth quarter growth," said Claes Fornell, head of the A.C.S.I. at the University of Michigan.

Although satisfaction with the food industry decreased, Heinz made significant improvement in the quarter with a 3% gain, increasing the company index to 90, which was the highest score for any company in any industry.

"Heinz is getting back to the basics and focusing on what it does best," Mr. Fornell said. "They may have found their secret sauce for satisfaction by making their core products even better."

The Campbell Soup Co. also was up, gaining 4% to 83 after making many recent improvements to offer more healthful products. Other high-scoring companies included The Hershey Co. with an index of 87 and Mars, Inc. at 86.

On the other end of the spectrum, some food companies did not show as strong of results. Sara Lee Corp.’s index dropped 4% to 82, while Kraft Food Inc.’s was down 2% to 84 and The Kellogg Co.’s was down 2% to 83.

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