Analysis of factors that impact on the consumer risk perception of dairy product safety in China : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Masters in Agricommerce, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Food safety is an international challenge that is felt strongly in China. A series of foodborne diseases and food fraud scandals around world have pushed concerns over food safety even further. With its rapid social and economic transformation in past 60 years, China is shifting its priority from food security to food safety. Melamine contaminated baby formula and many other food safety incidents in China have shaken Chinese consumer confidence in the food industry and even in regulatory institutions. China is one of the fastest growing markets for dairy products in the world. To understand how Chinese consumers form their perception of the safety of dairy products is critical for policy makers, regulatory institutions and the dairy industry to communicate food safety information with the consumer and establish food safety management with transparency and consistency. The aim of this study was to explore and evaluate factors that influence the consumers‘ risk perception of dairy product safety in Lanzhou, northwest of China. The literature review helped to identify a set of factors that impact on the consumers’ perception of food safety. A model of consumer risk perception in dairy food safety was developed to gain insight into the underlying drivers of the consumer demand for food safety. The study helped gain an understanding of how consumer social demographic information, reliance on extrinsic and intrinsic attributes, trust in actors and regulators in the dairy industry, personal experience and media use that impact on the risk perceptions of consumers. A self-completion survey was used to collect the data and provide a big picture of consumer risk perception in food safety in China. Factor analysis was used to refine the dependent variables to produce a data set with less dimensions and more significant correlation, and binary logistic regression analysis identified the three significant factors that influenced the consumers’ opinion relating to food safety. These were: family structure, reliance on third party food safety assurance and reliance intrinsic attributes, listed in order of their importance. The results of this study contribute the perception of risk relating to dairy products in China. The results will assist risk management and risk communication for policy makers and the food industry to develop their strategies towards improving consumer confidence in food safety.
Food safety, China, Dairy products, China, Food safety risk perception