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The sceptical consumer? Exploring views about food assurance


  • Eden, Sally
  • Bear, Christopher
  • Walker, Gordon


The problem of trust in food production and regulation has increasingly been raised as a practical and policy issue in recent years and one solution has been to provide more and better information about food production and regulation, especially through food assurance schemes. To look for evidence that this might be successful, this paper uses a small empirical study of how UK consumers think about food information and food assurance claims, using a statement sorting exercise (Q methodology) to identify key factors or shared views. We found that our consumers, despite differences in sociodemographics, gender, diet and shopping habits, tended to share a baseline of scepticism about food information and food assurance claims. We speculate that such scepticism may mean that, rather than providing a solution to the problem of distrust, food assurance schemes may themselves come to be distrusted.

Suggested Citation

  • Eden, Sally & Bear, Christopher & Walker, Gordon, 2008. "The sceptical consumer? Exploring views about food assurance," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 624-630, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:33:y:2008:i:6:p:624-630

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    8. Barry, John & Proops, John, 1999. "Seeking sustainability discourses with Q methodology," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 337-345, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Simcock, Neil & MacGregor, Sherilyn & Catney, Philip & Dobson, Andrew & Ormerod, Mark & Robinson, Zoe & Ross, Simon & Royston, Sarah & Marie Hall, Sarah, 2014. "Factors influencing perceptions of domestic energy information: Content, source and process," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 455-464.
    2. Bailey, Alison P. & Garforth, Chris, 2014. "An industry viewpoint on the role of farm assurance in delivering food safety to the consumer: The case of the dairy sector of England and Wales," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 14-24.
    3. Danièle Benezech, 2011. "La confiance entre les partenaires de l'échange, au-delà des labels," Post-Print halshs-00592488, HAL.
    4. Giovanna Sacchi & Vincenzina Caputo & Rodolfo M. Nayga, 2015. "Alternative Labeling Programs and Purchasing Behavior toward Organic Foods: The Case of the Participatory Guarantee Systems in Brazil," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(6), pages 1-20, June.
    5. Kraak, Vivica I. & Swinburn, Boyd & Lawrence, Mark & Harrison, Paul, 2014. "A Q methodology study of stakeholders’ views about accountability for promoting healthy food environments in England through the Responsibility Deal Food Network," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(P1), pages 207-218.
    6. Mandolesi, Serena & Nicholas, Philippa & Naspetti, Simona & Zanoli, Raffaele, 2015. "Identifying viewpoints on innovation in low-input and organic dairy supply chains: A Q-methodological study," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 25-34.
    7. Latvala, Terhi & Mandolesi, Serena & Nicholas, Phillipa & Zanoli, Raffaele, 2013. "Identifying Expectations for Innovations in Management Practices in Dairy Sector by Using Q Methodology," 2013 International European Forum, February 18-22, 2013, Innsbruck-Igls, Austria 164734, International European Forum on Innovation and System Dynamics in Food Networks.
    8. Tonkin, Emma & Meyer, Samantha B. & Coveney, John & Webb, Trevor & Wilson, Annabelle M., 2016. "The process of making trust related judgements through interaction with food labelling," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1-11.


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