Food risk communication and consumers' trust in the food supply chain WP3 report on the focus groups conducted in France WP no.15

A. Couvreur

Sourcing Crédoc N°Sou2003-1860


The project is devoted to exploring the antecedents of trust in information sources and risk management along the food chain and the mechanisms that determine the social diffusion of trust. The specific task of WP3 is to investigate the social and cultural dimensions of trust in the food field, by means of a series offocus groups. As for Italy, Germany, UK and the Netherlands, four focus groups were conducted in France, during the month of September 2003. They were organised according to the general instructions and selection criteria given by ISIG.

This report presents the major findings of the French focus groups. In particular, it highlights the following results:

-         quality, price and taste are the three main criteria for the choice of food products,

-         consumers tend to rely more and more on their own “expertise ", based on their experience and tastes.

-         the food chain evoke very negative images and judgements, the food industry being perceived as a “black box’’.

-         safety does not appear as a very sensitive issue for consumers - or at least not as sensitive as it has been in recent years.

-         the responsibility of ensuring food safety belongs to the public authorities and should be controlled by an independent body.

-         food safety issues generate a global distrust in the “system ” even though consumers acknowledge that there has been significant improvements in food safety and that it is impossible to avoid all risks.

-         regarding the issue genetically modified foods, there was a wide consensus amongst participants who, in majority, rejected such techniques and products,

-         any kind of information on food safety / risks is almost automatically suspected of being either false, incorrect or manipulated but their is some clear demand for information on food safety issues and consumers consider they should be provided with such information.


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