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Consumer Perceptions and Attitudes Towards Food Safety in Portugal

Listed author(s):
  • Ventura-Lucas, Maria Raquel

The recent food crises and its great diffusion through the media had as consequence a reduction of the European consumer's confidence, in general, and of the Portuguese ones in particular, in the products that they buy and consume. These events also served to disclose some of the existing problems in the current marketing chain, in which many sectors result to have low, or no transparency or unknown ones to the consumers. For moreover, these crises had demonstrated that science and technology, in set with the governmental regulation do not offer guarantees that the risks associated with food have acceptable levels. All these questions triggered the interest of researchers to study the impact of food safety related issues on consumer behaviour. The objective of this paper is to increase knowledge on Portuguese consumer perceptions and attitudes towards food safety. Specially, consumers' level of concern about food crises, their view on the safety of several products throughout the supply chain and the assessment of different practices that may reduce food poisoning risks are here analysed. Likewise, the role of labels and the different information channels on purchasing habits are studied. Internet interviews have been used as the main source of information and have been conducted throughout Portugal and addressed to a sample of 1497 persons, representing the different geographic areas and age groups. The results indicate that, with exception of the residence place, the other socio-economic variables play an ever-decreasing role when explaining the consumer behaviour. The factors measuring lifestyle, especially those related to safety, and mainly, consumption experience, seem to be the main aspects explaining Portuguese consumers' perception on food safety. For moreover, one evidences of the reading of labels, the date of caducity is the information more consulted by the consumers, leaving of part other important food safety information and relation diet versus health, such as the instructions of storage and cooking, the nutritional value and the ingredients. In order to restore the confidence lost, an effort of diffusion of clear and truthful information is necessary, for beyond the necessity of an efficient coordination throughout all the marketing chain in order to offer food safety products.

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Paper provided by European Association of Agricultural Economists in its series 84th Seminar, February 8-11, 2004, Zeist, The Netherlands with number 24986.

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Date of creation: 2004
Handle: RePEc:ags:eaae84:24986
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  1. Julie A. Caswell & Eliza M. Mojduszka, 1996. "Using Informational Labeling to Influence the Market for Quality in Food Products," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1248-1253.
  2. Kinnucan, Henry W. & Chang, Hui-Shung (Christie) & Venkateswaran, Meenakshi, 1993. "Generic Advertising Wearout," Review of Marketing and Agricultural Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 61(03), December.
  3. Spencer Henson & James Northen, 2000. "Consumer Assessment of the Safety of Beef at the Point of Purchase: A Pan-European Study," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 90-105.
  4. Gary D. Thompson & Julia Kidwell, 1998. "Explaining the Choice of Organic Produce: Cosmetic Defects, Prices, and Consumer Preferences," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(2), pages 277-287.
  5. Lusk, Jayson L. & Fox, John A., 2000. "Consumer Valuation Of Beef Ribeye Steak Attributes," 2000 Annual meeting, July 30-August 2, Tampa, FL 21793, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  6. John D. Jackson, 1997. "Effects of Health Information and Generic Advertising on U.S. Meat Demand," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(1), pages 13-23.
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