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Abstract

Given the credence nature of food quality and food safety attributes, consumers rely on abstract systems of regulation as well as quality signals such as brands to make informed choices. Motivated by the need to further investigate what influences consumer confidence in credence attributes, this paper develops a conceptual framework in which trust in the food system (i.e. government, farmers, manufacturers, and retailers) and brand trust are posited to influence public confidence in credence attributes. The proposition is tested using Structural Equation Modeling techniques based on survey data from a sample of Canadian consumers of fresh chicken meat and of packaged green salad. Survey results indicate that while both trust in the food system and brand trust are positively associated with consumer confidence in credence attributes, the influence of system trust on public confidence is more pronounced than the effect of trust in individual food brands. The effect of brand trust also appears to vary across product categories. The paper offers insights into the use of SEM to model the complexity underlying the determinants and outcomes of trust within food networks.

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