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Food miles: Do UK consumers actually care?

  • Kemp, Katherine
  • Insch, Andrea
  • Holdsworth, David K.
  • Knight, John G.
Registered author(s):

    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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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6VCB-50F99PW-1/2/59ef6c040314ee334053256bd32d1d57
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    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
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/foodpol

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    1. Rook, Dennis W, 1987. " The Buying Impulse," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 189-99, September.
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    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. 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.
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    6. Roberts, James A., 1996. "Will the real socially responsible consumer please step forward?," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 79-83.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
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