Assuring production-derived quality in Canadian food markets
Food quality attributes arising from farming methods are important to many Canadians. The credence nature of these quality attributes necessitates some form of quality assurance for accurate signalling to consumers. This thesis examines the appropriate role for private, third party, and government actors in credible quality assurance systems for production-derived attributes. Concurrently, it explores the nature of trust that Canadians put in various organizations for quality assurance. In a nationwide survey, Canadian consumers obtained significant benefits from government verification of pesticide free and environmentally sustainable grains contained in pre-packaged sliced bread. The data was collected using a discrete choice experiment. Farmers, third party, and government organizations were similarly trusted for accurate information about farming methods. The dimensions of this trust varied across organizations. Government standards relating to environmental sustainability were perceived as most effective. Results obtained using a latent class multinomial logit model showed that respondents who most valued production-derived food quality also received the greatest benefit from government verification and significant negative utility from supermarket or third party verification. In relative terms, the difference in utility between third party and government verification represents 141% of the value of the environmentally sustainable attribute and 87% of the pesticide free attribute. The results suggest that significant consumer benefit can be achieved if government were to take a leading role in quality assurance for production-derived quality.
discrete choice, trust, quality assurance
Master of Science (M.Sc.)