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Social and Environmental Attributes of Food Products in an Emerging Mass Market : Challenges of Signaling and Consumer Perception, With European Illustrations

Author

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  • Jean-Marie Codron

    (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - UMR MOISA - Place Viala - 34060 Montpellier Cedex 1 - FRANCE)

  • Lucie Sirieix

    (Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Montpellier - UMR MOISA - Place Viala - 34060 Montpellier Cedex 1 - FRANCE)

  • Thomas Reardon

    (Department of Agricultural Economics - Michigan State University - East Lansing, Michigan - USA)

Abstract

This paper focuses on the environmental and ethical attributes of food products and their production processes. These two aspects have been recently recognized and are becoming increasingly important, in terms of signaling and of consumer perception. There are two thematic domains: environmental and social. Within each domain there are two movements. Hence the paper first presents the four movements that have brought to the fore new aspects of food product quality, to wit: (1) aspects of environmental ethics (organic agriculture and integrated agriculture) and (2)social ethics (fair trade and ethical trade). Then it describes how the actors in the movements producers, retailers, NGOs, and governments) are organized and how consumers perceive each of the movements. From the perspective of the actors in the movements themselves, the movements are grouped into two 'actors' philosophies' : a “radical” philosophy (the organic production and fair trade movements that arose in radical opposition to conventional agriculture or unfair trade relations) and a “reformist” philosophy (the integrated agriculture and ethical trade movements that arose as efforts to modify but not radically change conventional agriculture). From the point of view of consumers, the classification of the movements is based on perceptions of the 'domain' of the movements. That is, consumers tend to perceive as a grouping the organic production movement and the integrated agricultural movement, as they both deal with the environment. By contrast, consumers tend to group the fair trade movement and the ethical trade movement, as they both deal essentially with social ethics. Recently, key players such as large retailers and agribusinesses have adopted as part of their overall quality assurance programs both the environmental and the ethical attributes. Their involvement in and adoption of the goals of the movements have, however, generated tensions and conflicts, in particular within the radical movements, because of concerns of cooptation. The paper identifies challenges for those promoting food products with environmental and social/ethical attributes to communicate coherent signals to consumers at this crucial moment of an emerging mass market for these products.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-Marie Codron & Lucie Sirieix & Thomas Reardon, 2005. "Social and Environmental Attributes of Food Products in an Emerging Mass Market : Challenges of Signaling and Consumer Perception, With European Illustrations," Industrial Organization 0512002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpio:0512002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sylvaine Poret, 2007. "Les défis du commerce équitable dans l'hémisphère Nord," Working Papers hal-00243061, HAL.
    2. van Wijk, J.C.A.C. & Danse, M. & van Tulder, R.J.M., 2008. "Making Retail Supply Chains Sustainable: Upgrading Opportunities for Developing Country Suppliers under Voluntary Quality Standards," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2008-080-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    3. Giovannucci, Daniele, 2008. "How New Agrifood Standards are Affecting Trade," MPRA Paper 17203, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Marion Maignan, 2014. "Innovation sociale et formation du prix juste au sein d’une filière courte alimentaire. Le cas de la SCIC Alter-Conso," Post-Print halshs-01468435, HAL.
    5. Kellou, Imene, 2014. "Alternative Food Systems: The Case of Agri-food SMEs," 2014 International European Forum, February 17-21, 2014, Innsbruck-Igls, Austria 199345, International European Forum on System Dynamics and Innovation in Food Networks.
    6. Marius Chevallier & Julien Dellier & Gaël Plumecocq & Frédéric Richard, 2014. "Dynamiques et structuration des circuits courts agroalimentaires en Limousin : distance institutionnelle, proximités spatiale et relationnelle," Géographie, économie, société, Lavoisier, vol. 16(3), pages 339-362.
    7. Meyer-Höfer, Marie von & Spiller, Achim, 2015. ""Sustainability" a semi-globalisable concept for international food marketing: Consumer expectations regarding sustainable food," 143rd Joint EAAE/AAEA Seminar, March 25-27, 2015, Naples, Italy 202747, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    8. von Meyer-Höfer, Marie & Spiller, Achim, 2014. "“Sustainability” a semi-globalisable concept for international food marketing - Consumer expectations regarding sustainable food – An explorative survey in industrialised and emerging countries," GlobalFood Discussion Papers 182513, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, GlobalFood, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development.
    9. Schiller, Frank, 2009. "Linking material and energy flow analyses and social theory," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1676-1686, April.
    10. Marion Maignan, 2014. "The collective interest cooperative company (SCIC), a social innovation : performativity of alternative models in the third sector organizations," Post-Print halshs-01468643, HAL.
    11. Sidali, Katia Laura & Spiller, Achim & von Meyer-Hofer, Marie, 2016. "Consumer Expectations Regarding Sustainable Food: Insights from Developed and Emerging Markets," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association, vol. 0(Issue 3), pages 1-30, August.
    12. Wendy J. Umberger & Dawn D. Thilmany McFadden & Amanda R. Smith, 2009. "Does altruism play a role in determining U.S. consumer preferences and willingness to pay for natural and regionally produced beef?," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(2), pages 268-285.
    13. Gaëlle Balineau & Ivan Dufeu, 2010. "Are Fair Trade Goods Credence Goods? A New Proposal, with French Illustrations," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 92(2), pages 331-345, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Consumer perception; Ethical trade; Fair trade; Integrated agriculture; Organic agriculture; Organization; Quality signals;

    JEL classification:

    • L - Industrial Organization

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