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Maintaining trust and credibility in a continuously evolving organic food system

By M. H. Thorsoe

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Credibility is particularly important in organic food systems because there are only marginal visual and sensorial differences between organic and conventionally produced products, requiring consumers to trust in producers' quality claims. In this article I explore what challenges the credibility of organic food systems and I explore how credibility of organic food systems can be maintained, using the Danish organic food system as a case study. The question is increasingly relevant as the sale of organic food is growing in Denmark as well as globally, and consumers' expectations of organics continuously evolve. The inquiry is threefold, first I outline a conceptual framework for understanding trust and credibility in the food system, secondly I explore the developments in Danish organic food systems and thirdly discuss the challenges and opportunities for maintaining trust in the Danish organic food system. In the analysis I indicate eight key challenges: (1) unrealistic expectations, (2) blind trust and little motivation for extending their knowledge, (3) consumers assess the overall credibility of organic products, (4) ambitious ethical principles, (5) new consumer groups introduce new expectations, (6) frozen requirements in a changing world, (7) growing imports and labelling and (8) multiple versions of organics and the diversity is growing, as well as four aspects which may maintain the credibility of organics if implemented: (1) coordinate expectations, (2) communicate requested information, (3) institutional reform and (4) open communication of pros and cons of organic production.

Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 28
Issue 4
Pages 767-787
ISBN/ISSN 0893-4282
Language English
Author Address Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Blichers Alle 20, Postboks 50, 8830 Tjele,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Case Report
  2. Constraints
  3. Consumers
  4. customers
  5. Denmark
  6. Developed countries
  7. Europe
  8. Food quality
  9. Foods
  10. OECD countries
  11. organic farming
  12. organic foods
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. products
  15. Scandinavia
  1. peer-reviewed