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  • Author or Editor: B. Slee x
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This paper reviews the nature of European food markets and the place of food differentiated by quality standard in that market. Some aspects of the production of ‘alternative’ ‘differentiated’ and ‘speciality’ foods are likely to impact positively on rural livelihoods but the current evidence base is weak. The presumed linkages between speciality and alternative food production and rural development are rarely quantified. The European Union has developed policies to protect regionally specific and organic foods, but over and above the EU standards there are many other private sector and national and local government means used in promoting regionally produced food. Alternative Agriculture and Food Networks (AAFNs) may provide a potentially useful means of supporting rural development, but if demand is fickle, the development base may be fragile. As an alternative to the mainstream food system AAFNs tend to be more labour intensive and are less vulnerable to cheap commodity imports than mainstream production, but their inherent fragility should not be ignored.

In: Looking east looking west
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Much of the theoretical debate about alternative food supply chains or networks has been couched in dualistic conceptions of a mainstream and an alternative food sector. This paper asserts that there is much evidence of hybridity in evolving food chains and networks. Different theoretical perspectives in the social sciences offer spaces in which to explore the idea of hybridity. This evident hybridity in the agro-food sector makes assertions of a new European paradigm of rural development based on a relocalised food sector appear more a normative hope than an empirical fact.

In: International marketing and trade of quality food products
In: Looking east looking west

In an international trade context, environmental elements (e.g. the introduction of organic agriculture) and the role of the country of origin could influence the demand in the market of destination. This study aims at describing how qualitative research methods may help deepen knowledge regarding interest towards organic products imported from Thailand, specifically Kamut® wheat, organic rice and tapioca. In the case of Kamut-based-products 21 individual interviews were conducted with Italian large scale retailers, whereas in the case of products based on Thai rice and tapioca, 4 focus groups comprising of European consumers from Germany, Greece, Italy, and Scotland were administered. The individual and group interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed using a qualitative approach. In both cases a list of semantic categories was created, explained and supported by analysing the discussions using content analysis techniques. According to these results, survey participants did not know much about these products, especially about tapioca. In general, Thai Organic rice was perceived by the interviewed consumers as a ‘different type’ of rice and tapioca as a ‘new food product’. Kamut® wheat was also perceived by the interviewed retailers as a ‘new product’. The survey participants tend to favour the product’s nutritional aspects, as the most relevant attributes followed by taste and smell, as well as a series of social and environmental benefits. The information obtained could be useful in further exploration of this topic, but it needs to be tested with a quantitative approach.

In: Looking east looking west