Consumer attitudes toward and preferences for local foods in Northern Ireland: Experimental and survey evidence

  • Stavros Vlachos

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

This thesis investigates the consumer attitudes toward and preferences for local foods in Northern Ireland. The thesis innovates by exploring the consistency of choices in stated and revealed preferences and the possibility to nudge behaviour through persuasive communication in the context of local foods. Evidence is based on both survey and experimental data. It contains three main chapters. In Chapter 2, I critically review the literature and explore how local food systems have re-emerged in response to globalisation, and what characteristics of these systems are related to consumers' grown interest in buying local foods. First, I find that the progress of internationalisation of food trade over time has diminished the role of localisation. Second, I find that in response to several economic, environmental and social problems related to food globalisation, local foods have gained in popularity. Third, I argue in favour of a government intervention in the market of local foods to nudge consumers behaviour toward better choices. In Chapter 3, I report a consumer survey that investigates which consumers buy local foods and for what reasons. I find that consumers who are wealthier, well educated and reside in rural areas, have more positive attitudes towards local foods and a higher willingness to buy local foods. Second, I find that consumers who are females, older, well-educated, wealthier and reside in rural areas have a higher food-origin awareness. Third, perceived quality, care for the environment, personal health, and support of the local economy are the most important dimensions that drive local food buying. Fourth, I find that attitudes toward local foods are not product-specific. In Chapter 4, I report an experiment that complements survey evidence and tests the impact of persuasive messages on shoppers' propensity to buy local foods. I find that attitudes toward local foods do not significantly influence consumers' propensity to buy local foods. Second, I show that a simple message about the benefits of local foods induces consumers to buy more local foods whether it emphasises environmental benefits, personal health benefits, food quality benefits, or benefits for the local economy. Third, I find that to increase consumers' propensity to buy local foods, a message that emphasises the benefits for the local economy should be preferred to a message that emphasizes personal health benefits.
Date of AwardOct 2018
LanguageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorAnthony Ziegelmeyer (Supervisor)

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