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Consumer’s stated trust in the food industry and meat purchases

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Research indicates that consumers are particularly concerned about the safety of meat. More highly processed meat is perceived as more unsafe than fresh or natural meats, i.e., consumers trust processed meat less. This paper studies the relationship between perceived trust and day-to-day purchase behavior for meat, giving special attention to the degree of meat processing. Controlling for trust in food chain actors and demographic and socio-economic variables, actual meat purchases of Canadian households are linked to answers from a commissioned food attitudes survey completed by the same households. Expenditures for processed and total meat (but not for fresh meat) are significantly different by three levels of trust in the food industry. Consumer with the lowest trust levels consume less (especially of processed meat) compared to those with higher trust levels. However, in a multivariate setting, trust shows no effect on fresh or processed meat purchases with or without demographic and socio-economic control variables, suggesting that the impact of trust on meat purchases is only small. However, the low trusting consumer segment could potentially be a target for marketing strategies focused on reputation and quality to increase sales in this particular group.

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  1. Based on Nielsen Market Track™ scanner data set, it is clear that most ground beef in Canada is sold as fresh random weight ground beef and makes up about C$ 367 million in expenditures or 61 million kg over the first 6 months of 2007 while packaged burgers represent about C$ 77 million or 11 million kg only.

  2. Economies of size imply that the time and costs to prepare an additional serving of a meal increase less than proportional or, in other words, the time and costs per serving decrease.

  3. Looking at the 230 participants with no meat purchases, 26.58 % belong to the low-trust segment; 43.24 % have medium trust and 30.18 % of the non-meat purchasers have high trust. So it seems that the reason for no meat purchases is not related to trust and those households are excluded from the analysis.

  4. Meat expenditures is, as the first-stage equation, regressed on household’s total income and demographic characteristics. Results are available upon request. Subsequently, the variable meat expenditures enters the two second-stage equations as endogenous variable. The two second-stage functions have been estimated as a system of demand functions. Furthermore, standard adding-up restrictions have been imposed before estimation. Following economic theory, the sum of the coefficients attached to expenditure should add up to unity and the sum of all other coefficients should add up to zero across the two equations.

  5. Results of semi-log Engel function as well as two-step Heckman estimations are available upon request.

  6. Approximately 4 % of the Canadian population is vegetarian (American Dietitians Association, Dietitians of Canada 2003). About 5.6 % of our overall sample did not purchase any meat (n = 230).


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Financial support from the Alberta Prion Research Institute and the Alberta Livestock Industry Development Fund is gratefully acknowledged. We thank participants of the Consumer and Market Demand-Agricultural Policy Research Network meeting in Ottawa.

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Correspondence to Larissa S. Drescher.

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Drescher, L.S., de Jonge, J., Goddard, E. et al. Consumer’s stated trust in the food industry and meat purchases. Agric Hum Values 29, 507–517 (2012).

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