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Abstract

Despite growing interest in meat traceability systems, very little research has been done on consumer needs and perception of traceability. This gap is partly filled by the present study of consumer perception of meat traceability in Belgium, based on cross-sectional data collected in June 2001. Respondents are segmented, based on their subjective perception of meat quality, and differences in the perceived need for traceability systems between the various segments are investigated. Functional traceability attributes, such as organizational efficiency, chain monitoring and individual responsibility, are important to all consumers. Extensions with respect to process attributes, such as production methods, are less relevant to the general population, being only of interest to specific market segments, i.e. consumers with a more negative perception of meat quality and lower consumption levels. In conclusion, it is recommended that public policy focuses on the level of functional traceability attributes, whereas extensions with respect to process attributes are left to private initiatives, which focus on specific market segments.

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