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Food miles: Do UK consumers actually care?

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  • Kemp, Katherine
  • Insch, Andrea
  • Holdsworth, David K.
  • Knight, John G.
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    Abstract

    The food miles concept, originating in the UK and given much prominence in the news media, has been used to imply that importing food from distant countries is inherently more wasteful than growing and consuming local produce. What impact is this potential non-tariff barrier having on consumer buying behaviour in UK supermarkets? Revealed preference surveys in four supermarkets show only 5.6% of 251 consumers nominated country-of-origin as one of the reasons for choosing a fresh food item they had just purchased. Furthermore, only 3.6% indicated that they had consciously chosen British products for the reason that such produce was "less harmful for the environment." In contrast, stated preference surveys in the street found that 21.5% indicated that "food miles" or "the long distance it travels" would stop them buying New Zealand products. What people say may differ substantially from what they actually do in regard to "food miles."

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Food Policy.

    Volume (Year): 35 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 6 (December)
    Pages: 504-513

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:35:y:2010:i:6:p:504-513

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/foodpol

    Related research

    Keywords: Food miles Revealed preferences Stated preferences Consumer behaviour;

    References

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    1. Alastair Iles, 2005. "Learning in Sustainable Agriculture: Food Miles and Missing Objects," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 14(2), pages 163-183, May.
    2. Roberts, James A., 1996. "Will the real socially responsible consumer please step forward?," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 79-83.
    3. Ballingall, John & Winchester, Niven, 2009. "Distance isn’t dead : An empirical evaluation of food miles-based preference changes," NZIER Working Paper 2009/1, New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.
    4. Martin R. Young & Wayne S. DeSarbo & Vicki G. Morwitz, 1998. "The Stochastic Modeling of Purchase Intentions and Behavior," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(2), pages 188-202, February.
    5. Carlsson-Kanyama, Annika & Ekstrom, Marianne Pipping & Shanahan, Helena, 2003. "Food and life cycle energy inputs: consequences of diet and ways to increase efficiency," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2-3), pages 293-307, March.
    6. Fisher, Robert J, 1993. " Social Desirability Bias and the Validity of Indirect Questioning," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 303-15, September.
    7. Pretty, J.N. & Ball, A.S. & Lang, T. & Morison, J.I.L., 2005. "Farm costs and food miles: An assessment of the full cost of the UK weekly food basket," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 1-19, February.
    8. Rook, Dennis W, 1987. " The Buying Impulse," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 189-99, September.
    9. John G Knight & David K Holdsworth & Damien W Mather, 2007. "Country-of-origin and choice of food imports: an in-depth study of European distribution channel gatekeepers," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 38(1), pages 107-125, January.
    10. Coley, David & Howard, Mark & Winter, Michael, 2009. "Local food, food miles and carbon emissions: A comparison of farm shop and mass distribution approaches," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 150-155, April.
    11. Mittal, Banwari & Lee, Myung-Soo, 1989. "A causal model of consumer involvement," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 363-389, November.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Steven Schnell, 2013. "Food miles, local eating, and community supported agriculture: putting local food in its place," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 615-628, December.
    2. Gadema, Zaina & Oglethorpe, David, 2011. "The use and usefulness of carbon labelling food: A policy perspective from a survey of UK supermarket shoppers," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 815-822.
    3. Grebitus, Carola & Lusk, Jayson L. & Nayga, Rodolfo M., 2013. "Effect of distance of transportation on willingness to pay for food," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 67-75.
    4. Panzone, Luca A. & Wossink, Ada & Southerton, Dale, 2013. "The design of an environmental index of sustainable food consumption: A pilot study using supermarket data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 44-55.
    5. Dingyang Zhou & Hirotaka Matsuda & Yuji Hara & Kazuhiko Takeuchi, 2012. "Potential and observed food flows in a Chinese city: a case study of Tianjin," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 29(4), pages 481-492, December.
    6. Banterle, Alessandro & Cavaliere, Alessia & Ricci, Elena Claire, 2012. "Food Labelled Information: An Empirical Analysis," International Journal on Food System Dynamics, International Center for Management, Communication, and Research, vol. 3(2).
    7. Grebitus, Carola & Lusk, Jayson L. & Nayga, Rodolfo M., 2013. "Explaining differences in real and hypothetical experimental auctions and choice experiments with personality," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 11-26.
    8. Schnettler, Berta & Sánchez, Mercedes & Orellana, Ligia & Sepúlveda, José, 2013. "Country of origin and ethnocentrism: a review from the perspective of food consumption," Economia Agraria y Recursos Naturales, Spanish Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 17.

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