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The role of trust in eight selected agri-food chains in four EU countries is explored. The empirical analysis is based on a qualitative assessment of 28 expert interviews conducted in summer/autumn 2005. The findings suggest that trust is more pronounced among SMEs which are characterised by the existence of personal relationships between business partners. However, as is clear for pork breeders, if a source of distrust exists, trust may not fully develop. Also, if the general economic situation is difficult, the development of trust may be hampered, because all chain participants are struggling to command a share of a diminishing margin within the chain. Finally, if economic power is distributed unevenly, as is the case in Germany, Ireland, Spain and the UK where retailers dominate most chains, trust towards the more powerful may be limited.


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