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Conference paper - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Regional Identity and Authenticity as a Means of Reaching the Consumer

Ekelund Axelson, Lena


Although horticultural supply chains in Europe are characterised by large-scale trade and big supermarkets, an increasing number of consumers are showing interest in the origin of their fresh fruit and vegetables. This paper addresses the issue of product origin, authenticity as a promotional tool and the link between local production and seasonal consumption with examples drawn from the Swedish and British markets. The results are derived from interviews with more than 1,500 Swedish consumers and observations of fourteen supermarkets, representing the main Swedish and UK actors. The study reveals strong preferences for domestic fruit and vegetables as well as robust interest in locally produced foods. Despite this, local products could be found in only two of the fourteen supermarkets visited and were promoted in only one. Compulsory EU rules on country of origin labeling were followed, however promotions based on national origin were more prevalent in the UK than in Sweden. Further, even in cases where national origin was communicated, it was done so mostly by the supermarkets’ own private brands. In terms of seasonality, there is stark contrast between British and Swedish supermarkets. The former has adopted the seasonality scheme created by authorities, with season being defined as the time periods when different domestic products are on the market, while in Sweden seasonality is defined by the supermarket and in at least one case as the period when a certain product is at its best, regardless of where it is grown. In conclusion, the study argues that despite the promise of product origin, there is a communication gap between the producer and the consumer which is exacerbated by gatekeepers who inhibit rather than drive the promotion of product authenticity. Consequently, local or regional producers lack a platform to communicate their unique and desirable properties to the end consumer.


local production; produce; fruit; vegetables; supermarket; consumer studies

Published in

Acta Horticulturae
2015, Volume: 1099, pages: 181-192
Title: Proceedings of the II International Symposium on Horticulture in Europe Angers, France, July 1 - 5, 2012
ISBN: 978-94-62610-96-5, eISBN: 978-94-62610-96-5
Publisher: ISHS, International Society for Horticultural Science


2nd International Symposium on Horticulture in Europe (SHE), JUL 01-05, 2012, Angers, FRANCE

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Business Administration

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