When it comes to creating all-natural products, 75% of Americans said they trust small, independent companies over large, established ones, according to a national consumer poll released Oct. 1 by Instantly. Another 70% said they believe most natural foods brands are independent, compared to 30% who said they believe large companies own natural foods brands.

“The perception among consumers is that natural foods are the domain of independent brands, and larger corporations don’t have this specialty, but with the mergers and acquisitions in the consumer packaged goods industry, the reality is that many food brands are owned by a handful of big companies,” said Andy Jolls, chief marketing officer at Instantly. “As demand for natural foods and ingredients rises, marketers need to be mindful about both the risks and opportunities that exist and position their brands carefully so as not to damage consumer trust.”

Los Angeles-based Instantly provides researchers and marketers with immediate access to consumers and automated insights tools. For this study Instantly polled more than 4,200 people in the United States from Sept. 15-21.  People answered questions on-line or on mobile devices.

The poll found 41% said they strongly agree that foods with artificial ingredients are less healthy than those with all-natural substitutes, and another 41% said they somewhat agree with that statement. If all-natural substitutes replace artificial ingredients in a brand, 35% said they definitely would have a more positive perception of the brand and 44% said they would have a somewhat more positive perception. If all-natural substitutes replace artificial ingredients in a brand, 32% said they would be much more likely to buy the brand and 43% said they would be somewhat more likely.

The survey asked questions about specific food product categories, too. Seventy-two per cent said removing all artificial ingredients from cereal and cereal bars would make the products healthier. The percentages were 60% for canned soups, 53% for snacks, 44% for frozen dinners, 44% for packaged dinners, 37% for frozen pizza, 24% for fast-food and 16% for candy.

When asked whether they had a good understanding of artificial ingredients and natural ingredients as well as the differences between them, 23% said they thoroughly understand, 45% said they had a good understanding, 25% said they had a decent understanding, and 6% said they did not fully understand.

Even though 75% said they trust small, independent companies more on all-natural products, overall trust was higher for large, established companies (52%) than small, independent companies (48%).