Consumers’ Buying Groups in the Short Food Chains: Alternatives for Trust
Food markets in affluent countries tend to be characterized by increasing complexity under several regards such as the organization of the productive chains, the process that leads to the formation of consumer’s preferences, the information/communication task and the building of trust among stakeholders. In particular, consumers are increasingly concerned about many credence attributes such as food safety, environmental concerns, the fairness of trade conditions, product origin and so forth. The paper focus on short chains and consumers’ buying groups (CBGs) seen as strategies to overcome the emerging difficulties that consumers face in collecting and processing information on credence attributes. The results of a field survey, based on e-mail interviews to Italian CBGs’ members are presented. The survey had the aim to explore personal motivations to join a CBG, the groups’ main objectives and organization and, eventually, the degree of satisfaction with this organization of the food shopping. The paper is organized as follows. Section 2 analyses the sources of consumer’s substantial distrust on many of the products available on food markets and underlines that the most common remedies to market failures due to asymmetric information, undertaken both by producers and policy makers, are far to be fully effective. Section 3 is devoted to short chains, directly connecting producers to consumers, and CBGs, i.e. families that organize their shopping on a collective basis to better pursue their ethical goals and to gain organizational advantages. Both weakness and strength points of short chains and of CBGs are briefly discussed from the consumers’ as well as from the producers’ point of view. The results of the interviews are analysed in the fourth section while some concluding remarks are contained in the last section.
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