Consumer perception and behavior toward food safety risk in Vietnam : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Economics at Massey University, Manawatu Campus New Zealand

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Massey University
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Perception of food safety risk is heightened in Vietnam. The main objective of this thesis is to gain an understanding of consumer perception of food safety risk and the relationship between risk perception and behaviour toward food safety risk in Vietnam. The thesis used the primary data that comes from our survey of 498 consumers and group discussions. Data were collected during 2017 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Results from Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) analysis confirmed that extensive media coverage of food safety scandals decreased trust in institutions and heightened risk perception of common food and risk perception of hazards directly. Negative food safety information indirectly amplified perception of food safety risk in general. Using the mixed method, we found that risk perception was shaped by the fear of hazards, risk perceived from common foods, and food risk information. This finding was supported by those generated from SEM. Region was the most important determinant of risk perception, where urban consumers perceived a higher food safety risk than their rural counterparts. Applying Principle Component Analysis and ordered logit regression, we found differences and similarities in the determinants of vegetable risk perception between the rural and urban regions. The Kruskal-Wallis test shows that higher risk perception was associated with a larger decline in vegetable consumption. To reduce the perceived risk, consumers avoided eating vegetables that were believed to be unsafe and switched to safer ones. We used the contingent valuation method to predict the willingness to pay (WTP) for organic vegetables. Results show that the WTP of urban consumers was higher than that of rural respondents. Perceived values of organic food, trust in organic labels, and income increased the WTP across the regions. Growing own vegetables reduced the WTP in the rural region only. Our findings suggest that regional differences need to be considered when designing risk communication and food safety policy. Urban farming should be encouraged as a mean to reduce food safety concerns in cities.
Food contamination, Vegetables, Risk perception, Consumer behavior, Vietnam