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Credibility of organics - knowledge, values and trust in Danish organic food networks

Thorsøe, Martin H. (2014) Credibility of organics - knowledge, values and trust in Danish organic food networks. PhD thesis, Aarhus University , Department of Agroecology. .

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The sale of organic food is growing in Denmark as well as globally, and consumers’ expectations of organics continuously evolve. Knowledge, values and trust are often seen as important concepts to understand the development of organic food networks, since organic food production is an alternative agricultural practice founded on a different set of values. Knowing about this difference is considered important for consumers to choose organically produced food. Furthermore, trust is an important mechanism sustaining producers' quality claims and enables consumers to act in spite of the uncertainties associated with modern food production. The ambition of this dissertation is to explore how values, knowledge and trust, act and interact in organic food networks.
Empirically, I explore Danish organic food networks using qualitative interviews with consumers and producers, a nationwide consumer survey, and a focus group interview. This data serves as the input for the four articles composing this dissertation.
In line with previous studies about trust in organics, this dissertation concludes that trust is important in Danish organic food networks. Trust is an important mechanism sustaining producers’ quality claims, and it reduces the need for knowledge exchange. Danish consumers have a high degree of trust in organics, but not much knowledge about what organics is and what organic food production entails. Furthermore, consumers only express little motivation towards acquiring additional knowledge. The prevailing consumer’ trust is therefore to a certain extent “blind trust” and thus fragile, because it easily turns to distrust.
I argue that trust in organics can be understood as two distinct forms of trust 1) personal trust, directed at persons and 2) systemic trust, directed at abstract systems, like labelling and control schemes. Systemic trust, particularly in the Danish labelling and control scheme, is important for consumer trust in organics. Personal trust is also important for many consumers and systemic trust does not stand alone. Consumers purchase organic products based on their own expectations which cannot be completely fulfilled by the food network. The long term credibility of the food network however presumes that is able to fulfil consumers’ expectations, which is currently not the case.

EPrint Type:Thesis
Thesis Type:PhD
Subjects: Farming Systems > Social aspects
Food systems > Markets and trade
Values, standards and certification > Consumer issues
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy
Research affiliation: Denmark > Organic RDD 1 > MultiTrust
Deposited By: Thorsøe, Postdoc Martin
ID Code:27317
Deposited On:03 Oct 2014 10:44
Last Modified:11 Feb 2015 09:18
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted
Additional Publishing Information:Part of MultiTrust deliverable 3.3.1

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