Sauce and baked bean maker H.J. Heinz Company has scored the highest of any company on the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, issued by the University of Michigan.

Heinz has been the index’s top-rated food company for six consecutive years Heinz said in a statement. In this latest survey, it scored the index’s highest-ever rating of 91 (out of 100), which was up three points from the company’s score of 88 in 2004.

The index is produced by the University’s Ross School of Business in partnership with the American Society for Quality and CFI Group, a consulting firm. The contents of the annual survey are based on data obtained from consumer telephone interviews regarding various products and services. The survey model is designed so customer satisfaction levels about various companies can be compared from year to year and across different categories and industries.

“We are extremely pleased to see the results of the ACSI,” said William R Johnson, Heinz chairman, president and CEO. “We take enormous pride in providing the highest quality food products and outstanding service to our consumers. Their positive feedback is most gratifying. Our investments in innovation and quality clearly are making a difference.”

According to the ACSI release earlier this week, customer satisfaction with food manufacturing on the whole scored an 82 and remains one of the most stable and high-scoring industries in ACSI.

The report noted that consumers found higher satisfaction in areas such as food, beer, cigarettes and apparel but lower rates of satisfaction with athletic shoes and pet food. The annual survey focuses on a different group of US industries each quarter. The overall ACSI score for a given quarter factors in scores from about 200 companies in 40 industries and from government agencies over the previous four quarters.