The foundations of institutional-based trust in farmers’ markets

  • Lijun Angelia Chen
  • Bruno Varella Miranda
  • Joe L. Parcell
  • Chao ChenEmail author


How do calculative trust and relational trust influence the emergence of institutional-based trust in farmers’ markets? We fill a gap in the literature by studying how diverse forms of trust influence the way frequent consumers evaluate the institutions of a farmers’ market. We analyze a data set of 687 frequent shoppers from the U.S. state of Missouri, assessing the institutional-based trust in farmers’ markets in comparison with the level of institutional-based trust in conventional food systems. The results suggest that calculative trust plays an important role in the consolidation of institutional-based trust in local food systems. More specifically, consumers who shop frequently and live closer to a farmers’ market tend to trust more in local food systems than in conventional food systems. Likewise, affinity towards conventional food systems—i.e., convenience-oriented lifestyle preferences—seems to influence the level of institutional-based trust in local food systems. Consumers who eat out more often tend to trust less in local food systems, possibly due to the lack of repeated experiences with sellers. Following the literature, we also show that consumers search for a broader set of attributes when shopping at a farmers’ market. Even though relational trust is correlated with higher levels of institutional-based trust in alternative food systems, strong ties do not increase the trust in the information found in a farmers’ market.


Alternative food systems Farmers’ markets Trust Institutions Economic organization 



We would like to thank the editor and the three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on our manuscript. We also would like to acknowledge financial support provided by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service for the project “Assessing Sampling, Price Reporting as Farmers Market Vendor Marketing Tools” (Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program Competitive Grant No. 14-FSMIP-MO-0008).


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Economics and ManagementNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Division of Applied Social SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Management & TechnologyUniversità BocconiMilanItaly

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