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Food industry on TV: Every second contribution is critical

We evaluated 729 television reports on the food industry last year. The results: Alarming.

The food industry is by nature highly political and highly emotional. This makes it all the more important to keep an eye on trends in reporting and to be aware of the social mood.

Christoph Schmale
12. February 2022
Food Communication

Contributions such as “Poison in food”, “Dangerous germs in fruit salad” or “Poured in and cashed out” prove this. These are just three examples of the total of 357 contributions that we classified as negative because the title or the station’s accompanying announcement test suggested so. In other words, on average, almost every day of the year a feature appeared on TV that dealt with the food industry in a negative way.

General criticism of the food industry / Fruit & Vegetables builds on top position

For years, three sectors have held the top positions in the sector comparison. The fruit and vegetable sector significantly expanded its first place over meat and beverages: 125 entries were about fruit and/or vegetables, 63 entries were about meat and sausage, and 59 entries were about beverages.

While the fruit and vegetable industry can be pleased however about being treated less frequently critically, the medial discussion of the meat industry is as in the previous years much more critical: Clearly more than half of the contributions suggested a negative tenor. The only programs broadcast more frequently than those on fruit and vegetables were those that dealt with the food industry in general. Of these, an above-average number were classified as critical. This confirms the underlying general criticism of the industry, which is often presented in a negative light in its entirety with reports such as “Cheat packages – the tricks of the manufacturers” or “Toxic aluminum in food”.

Sustainability on the rise

We examined not only the sectors, but also the topics covered by the TV reports. For the first time, the topic of the environment and sustainability also appeared in the ranking: 74 reports dealt with food waste, for example, and there were another 46 reports on questions of animal husbandry, which also addressed the aspect of sustainability. This shows that society and the industry are discussing sustainability and animal welfare issues very intensively. Our evaluation shows that these topics have also arrived in the TV programs.


We expect the trend toward predominantly negative reporting on the food industry to continue in 2020. As environmental and sustainability issues such as climate protection, animal welfare and packaging continue to dominate the social debate, they will also be used by TV stations for a critical examination of the food industry. The extent to which the corona crisis will find its way into TV reporting in connection with food is not yet clear at the present time. Conceivable, however, are contributions about hoarding purchases, supply bottlenecks and booming food in the crisis.

Detailed information, more figures on the evaluation and insights into which TV stations and programs deal with food particularly frequently – and critically – can be found on our website here:

About TV monitoring

Over the course of the entire year, we evaluated all the programs broadcast on television – consumer magazines, reports, talk shows, documentaries and other formats across all TV channels – relating to the food industry. Repeats were not counted. This time, a total of 729 TV reports were included in the evaluation – Engel & Zimmermann makes no claim to completeness. A special service is our weekly TV newsletter, in which food-relevant programs are announced. This is produced every Monday. Interested parties can find out more about this free TV newsletter at Subscriptions are also possible via the website

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