Organized Session on ‘Do trusting people make different food choices?’ at the Tri-Annual Meetings of the EAAE, Zurich, Switzerland

Organizers: J.E. Hobbs (University of Saskatchewan, Canada) and E. Goddard (University of Alberta, Canada)
Session overview:
Trust has been shown to be an important factor in many food decisions individuals make. Trust can be classified by different levels i.e. general trust, trust in groups and trust in different institutions or companies/sectors. Trust can also be classified as relational trust (between individuals and or institutions) and as calculative trust (confidence in actions) (Earle, 2010). Food decisions potentially impacted by trust include responses to food safety incidents, types of food technology acceptable to individuals, level of processing individuals wish to see in their purchased food, interest in labelling of primary production practices, responses to ethical labelling such as animal welfare, to environmental labelling and to various sorts of nutritional information. In looking at the linkages between trust and consumer behavioural change, it is not clear whether general trust or more specific group or institutional trust is more important or whether trust is more important in different contexts – food safety versus environmental labelling, for example.  People who trust in general or who trust individuals or institutions involved in the supply of food might have lower levels of worry about food safety, food technologies or food production practices. There is therefore a need to assess whether certain generic beliefs/attitudes (e.g. trust and confidence) can predict specific attitudes and potentially behaviour. The papers in this session provide an opportunity to examine these issues across five different empirical studies, using a variety of consumer research methodologies and empirical techniques.  The session brings together researchers from Europe and Canada examining these topics.

 

Presenters and outline of presentations:

Goddard, E*.  and V. Muringai.   Trust in people and institutions and the impact on meat safety concerns in Canada
*Department of Rural Economy, University of Alberta, Canada
In this study, linkages between the tendency of people to worry,  to trust people in general, to trust in players involved in the food supply chain (government, manufacturers, retailers and farmers) and to trust in food safety information provided by these players are examined. We further determine whether these worry/trust general and specific attitudes influence the degree to which people consider food safety when purchasing beef and pork. Data used in this study was collected in 2009 and 2011 in Canada. Data is analyzed using clustering of different groups of consumers by different trust indicators  and econometric regressions on the worries about food safety in meat purchases by cluster membership. Results generated from this analysis will help in understanding the heterogeneity of consumer concerns about meat safety and aid in predicting future responses to meat safety outbreaks.

Grebitus, C.*, M. Veeman** and B. Steiner**  Do Canadian consumers with different types of general and institutional trust have different desires for environmental labelling?
* Department of Agricultural and Food Market Research Institute for Food and Resource Economics, Bonn University, Germany
** Department of Rural Economy, University of Alberta, Canada

In this study, linkages between the tendency to trust people in general and to trust in information provided by different institutions in the economy are examined.  Further the extent to which these trust attitudes help explain an individual’s desire for environmental labelling are examined. It is hypothesized that apart from general environmental concerns, trust in the information provided on labels may be key to explaining consumer’s desire to see environmental information on the products they purchase.  Data used in this study was collected in 2011 in Canada.  Data is analyzed using logit regression.  Results generated from this analysis can help predict which segments of the population will likely respond more to environmental labelling based on their trust in different institutions in the food chain.

Drescher, L*. and E. Goddard** Trust in people and institutions and willingness to pay for local and traceable beef in restaurants 
* Marketing and Consumer Research, TUM Business School, Germany
**Department of Rural Economy, University of Alberta, Canada
In this study, linkages between the tendency of people to worry,  to trust people in general, to trust in players involved in the food supply chain (government, manufacturers, retailers, restaurants and farmers) and to trust in food safety information provided by these players are examined. We further examine whether these general and specific food safety trust attitudes affect the level of people’s willingness to pay for local beef (certified local beef) and traceability back to farm of origin in  beef purchases at restaurants (both hamburger and steak dinner beef entrees). One previously under-researched area is how closely the demand for local in food purchases is linked to food safety concerns by the population and the analysis to be presented will attempt to address that in the context of restaurant purchases.  Data was collected from 3000 Canadian respondents in 2010.

Hobbs, J.E., J. Zhang, A. Uzea and W.A. Kerr.  Trust in animal welfare assurances: exploring heterogeneity in preferences.
Department of Bioresource Policy, Business & Economics, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
In this study, consumers’ trust in animal welfare quality claims in a pork product is examined, along with the question of whether it matters who provides those quality assurances.  Using data from a survey targeted at two distinct samples of Canadians – a general population sample (540 respondents) and members of animal welfare organizations (82 respondents),  a discrete choice experiment is used to assess trust in quality verification by public sector, private sector and third party agents.  Heterogeneity in consumer preferences is examined using a  latent class model revealing distinct sub-sets of consumers with distinct attitudes toward animal welfare and different propensities to trust public versus private sector agents.