Food Transparency as a Useful Guide to Optimal Food Purchases

15 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2020

See all articles by Martina Dove

Martina Dove


Badri Narayanan Gopalakrishnan

University of Washington Seattle; ISM

Adhithya Balasubramanian

Shiv Nadar University

Date Written: May 24, 2020


The present interview study, with consumers living in Washington state, USA, set out to explore consumers’ perceptions of quality, safety and transparency and see how these influence shopping preferences. The results indicate that consumers are guided by subjective perceptions of food quality, as well as concerns driven by personal values and ethical and environmental considerations. Food safety was found to be confusing for almost all of the consumers in this study, with many expecting stores to provide safe foods. The study also utilized a concept testing method, to evaluate the concept of food transparency and examine how it compares against the established food certifications (organic and free range). Consumers exhibited trust in organic labels, expecting organic farming to ensure good farming practices and quality of life for animals reared for consumption, however they were also aware that this trust is based on assumptions. As a result, they were receptive to more accurate and informative solutions, such as transparency, that could guide their decisions and give them more certainty. Transparency was seen as a useful tool in identifying quality products, which align with personal values and as such, it was received well with consumers in the present study.

Keywords: Food Transparency, Food Safety, Food Quality, Certification, Values and Ethics

JEL Classification: Q18

Suggested Citation

Dove, Martina and Narayanan, G. Badri and Balasubramanian, Adhithya, Food Transparency as a Useful Guide to Optimal Food Purchases (May 24, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Martina Dove

Tripwire ( email )

United States


G. Badri Narayanan (Contact Author)

University of Washington Seattle ( email )

Seattle, WA 98195
United States
98074 (Fax)


ISM ( email )

16167 Glenbrooks Place
surrey, BC - British Columbia v4n1t3

Adhithya Balasubramanian

Shiv Nadar University ( email )

9445672881 (Phone)

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