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Do we really want to track our food from the farm to the table?

Posted August 27, 2015

Customers are more likely to purchase food products when grocers use food traceability systems to show where and how the food was produced and shipped, according to new research from the University at Buffalo School of Management.


In the wake of major food safety issues such as mad cow disease, consumers concerned about their health and safety have demanded to know more about how their food was produced and reached their grocery store.

Published in Information & Management, the study also found that for some shoppers, just having the information available is enough to influence a purchase.

“Simply making this kind of traceability information available for food products will encourage more purchases of those products, and at a higher price, even if the buyer never uses that information,” says study co-author Rajiv Kishore, PhD, associate professor of management science and systems in the UB School of Management.

The researchers found that a key factor to increase consumer trust in retailers is effective governmental oversight of this information.

“If the customer believes regulatory authorities are ensuring accurate production information, he or she is more likely to buy food that is tracked using traceability systems, and even less likely to actually use the food traceability information,” says Kishore.

The researchers surveyed 245 mostly female consumers in Seoul, South Korea, where beef traceability systems are installed in nearly every grocery market.

Further research should collect data from consumers in other parts of the world, with a more representative sample of the gender breakdown of grocery buyers, Kishore says. The sample was 83 percent female while 68 percent of grocery shopping is done by women, according to the study.

Source: State University of New York at Buffalo

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