Assessing differences in levels of food trust between European countries

Blain Murphy, Tony Benson, Fiona Lavelle, Chris Elliott, Moira Dean*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Introduction: As the globalisation of the food market continues, consumer trust in the food supply chain and the related actors are vital for the functioning of the food industry. While past research has primarily focused on consumer trust within countries and how it can be increased, studies on cross country differences and the comparison between trust and distrust are limited to review articles. To address this gap, this study investigates the levels of trust and distrust in food products and organisations across four European countries (Finland, Germany, Greece and the UK). Methods: Using a previously validated consumer Trust Toolkit (Benson et al., 2020), an online cross-sectional survey explored consumer's trust in food and in food supply chain actors. In addition to this toolkit measuring trust and distrust constructs, the questionnaire for the current study also included relevant sociodemographic, household, and psychological items. The data was analysed using ANOVAs, descriptive statistics and regressions using SPSS v26. Results: Overall, consumers (n = 1027) had a high level of trust in an EU food product (beef burgers; mean = 3.981; SD = 1.353) and the organisations involved in creating and certifying the product (organisations; mean = 4.263 SD = 1.129, food chain; mean = 4.434, SD = 1.177). The data found that Finnish and UK consumers had the highest levels of trust overall, while German and Greek consumers had lower trust in their food and food-related organisations. Interestingly, Finnish consumers reported the highest levels of distrust in food-related organisations, which indicates that food-related distrust is more nuanced than simply being the opposite of food-related trust. These findings are discussed in relation to the cultural context of each country and risk practises. Conclusions: The levels of food trust and distrust differs across countries highlighting the need for developing different business and organisational strategies to market products in different countries/cultures. Understanding consumers’ trust in food and in food-related organisations is the first step in benchmarking and improving consumer trust across Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107561
Number of pages7
JournalFood Control
Early online date18 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Consumer
  • Country differences
  • Distrust
  • Food
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science


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