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Processors' understanding of process quality: a qualitative interview study with employees of organic dairies in Germany and Switzerland

Borghoff, Lisa; Strassner, Carola and Herzig, Christian (2023) Processors' understanding of process quality: a qualitative interview study with employees of organic dairies in Germany and Switzerland. British Food Journal, 125 (8), pp. 2949-2969.

[thumbnail of borghoff-etal-2023-BritishFoodJournal-Vol125-Issue8-p2949-2969.pdf] PDF - Published Version - English
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.


Document available online at: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/BFJ-06-2022-0535/full/html


Organic food processing must include organic principles to be authentic. This qualitative study aims to understand the processors' understanding of organic food processing quality.
This study is based on semi-structured expert interviews with eight employees of six purely or partly organic dairies from Germany and Switzerland. Interview themes are (1) quality of organic milk processing in general, (2) assessment of specific processing techniques, (3) product quality of organic milk and (4) flow of information between producer and consumer. The interviews have been audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed.
(1) Experts prefer minimal processing; some prefer artisanal processing, whilst others stress the advantages of mechanisation. (2) High temperature short time (HTST) pasteurisation and mechanical processing techniques are accepted; ultra-high-temperature (UHT) milk processing is partly rejected. (3) Traditional taste and valuable ingredients should be present in the final product. Natural variances are judged positively. (4) Consumers' low level of food technology literacy is challenging for communication.
Research limitations/implications
The results cannot be generalised due to the qualitative study design. Further studies, e.g. qualitative case analyses and studies with a quantitative design, are necessary to deepen the results.
Practical implications
The paper shows which processing technologies experts consider suitable or unsuitable for organic milk. The paper also identifies opportunities to bridge the perceived gap between processors' and consumers' demands.
The study shows the challenges of processors in expressing the processors' understanding of process quality.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:organic milk processing, quality perception, expert interviews, Qualitative text analysis
Agrovoc keywords:
milk processing
Subjects: Food systems > Food security, food quality and human health
Food systems > Processing, packaging and transportation
Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > Switzerland
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > Germany
Research affiliation: European Union > CORE Organic > CORE Organic Cofund > ProOrg
Germany > University of Gießen > Institute of Farm and Agribusiness Management
Germany > Other organizations Germany
Deposited By: Rahier, Lisa
ID Code:52001
Deposited On:28 Nov 2023 08:12
Last Modified:28 Nov 2023 13:28
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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