Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 701–712 | Cite as

Internet-enabled access to alternative food networks: A comparison of online and offline food shoppers and their differing interpretations of quality

  • Benjamin Wills
  • Anthony Arundel


Online food retail has the potential to broaden access to systems of food provision which promote social and environmental quality attributes. This possibility is explored using data from a survey of 365 consumers who purchased food either via internet retailers of local and organic food, or via farmers’ markets, in Vancouver, Canada and Melbourne, Australia. Survey results are analyzed using principal component and regression techniques and interpreted via the theoretical framework of conventions theory. Key findings show that while online retailers of local organic food are not currently attracting more resource constrained consumers, they do appeal to a similar, although broader, array of quality conventions. This research provides new insights into the challenges and opportunities associated with increasing consumer access to alternative food networks, as well as adding to the small number of quantitative studies in the conventions theory literature.


Alternative food networks Internet retail Conventions theory Access equity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Innovation Research Centre, Tasmanian School of Business and EconomicsUniversity of TasmaniaSandy BayAustralia
  2. 2.UNU-MERITUniversity of MaastrichtMaastrichtThe Netherlands

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