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Consumers' attitudes, trust and willingness to pay for food information

Nocella, G. ORCID:, Romano, D. and Stefani, G. (2014) Consumers' attitudes, trust and willingness to pay for food information. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 38 (2). pp. 153-165. ISSN 1470-6431

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/ijcs.12080


Market failure can be corrected using different regulatory approaches ranging from high to low intervention. Recently, classic regulations have been criticized as costly and economically irrational and thus policy makers are giving more consideration to soft regulatory techniques such as information remedies. However, despite the plethora of food information conveyed by different media there appears to be a lack of studies exploring how consumers evaluate this information and how trust towards publishers influence their choices for food information. In order to fill such a gap, this study investigates questions related to topics which are more relevant to consumers, who should disseminate trustful food information, and how communication should be conveyed and segmented. Primary data were collected both through qualitative (in depth interviews and focus groups) and quantitative research (web and mail surveys). Attitudes, willingness to pay for food information and trust towards public and private sources conveying information through a new food magazine were assessed using both multivariate statistical methods and econometric analysis. The study shows that consumer attitudes towards food information topics can be summarized along three cognitive-affective dimensions: the agro-food system, enjoyment and wellness. Information related to health risks caused by nutritional disorders and food safety issues caused by bacteria and chemical substances is the most important for about 90% of respondents. Food information related to regulations and traditions is also considered important for more than two thirds of respondents, while information about food production and processing techniques, life style and food fads are considered less important by the majority of respondents. Trust towards food information disseminated by public bodies is higher than that observed for private bodies. This behavior directly affects willingness to pay (WTP) for food information provided by public and private publishers when markets are shocked by a food safety incident. WTP for consumer association (€ 1.80) and the European Food Safety Authority (€ 1.30) are higher than WTP for the independent and food industry publishers which cluster around zero euro. Furthermore, trust towards the type of publisher also plays a key role in food information market segmentation together with socio-demographic and economic variables such as gender, age, presence of children and income. These findings invite policy makers to reflect on the possibility of using information remedies conveyed using trusted sources of information to specific segments of consumers as an interesting soft alternative to the classic way of regulating modern food markets.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Agri-Food Economics & Marketing
ID Code:35760

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