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It is argued that privately run farm assurance schemes in the U.K. have been developed predominantly to signal the presence of desired level of food safety (and other credence) attributes to domestic multiple food retailers. It is hypothesized that these food retailers will only buy 'farm assured' meat from abattoirs, therefore abattoirs must buy and process 'farm assured' livestock. Other factors, including abattoir size, procurement policy, level of processing and hygiene levels, are also hypothesized to affect the probability of an abattoir selling meat to large multiple retailers. The hypotheses are tested through a survey of abattoirs in the United Kingdom and a logistic regression is used to assess significance. It is found that buying farm assured livestock is a highly significant positive factor in selling meat to large multiple retailers; in addition, the procurement policy of abattoirs (affecting traceability of product) and abattoir size are also found to be significant determinants of the probability of this trade. The empirical evidence supports the hypothesis that industry-led farm assurance schemes are indeed used by large multiple food retailers as a credible signal of food safety (and other credence) attributes.


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