Creating a benchmark

Benchmarking activities formed the basis for FoodRisC research over the first 18 months of the project.

The specific objectives for the benchmarking activities are to:

  • Explore how food risks and benefits are currently conceptualised across Europe by population groups and relevant stakeholders
  • Investigate consumers’ knowledge and use of risk/benefit communications and preferred communication routes and tools
  • Investigate food chain stakeholders and experts opinions regarding food risk/benefit communications – tools and information routes
  • Identify perceived barriers to effective risk and benefit communication across Europe by population groups and relevant stakeholders
  • Characterise risks, benefits and crises currently and potentially involved in benefit/risk communication in the food chain as well as communication tools, target population groups, information sources, and media channels

FoodRisC researchers undertook an extensive literature review, focusing on food risk and benefit communication, food crises, social media and consumer perception. This provided the building blocks, whilst a secondary analysis of Eurobarometer data defined potential target groups for specialised communications efforts.

In depth interviews allowed the FoodRisC team to build on these foundations and explore the different understandings of food risk/benefit communication of consumers, experts and stakeholders. Interviewees from Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Latvia provided a European wide perspective.

The interviews allowed researchers to understand the existing perceptions surrounding food risks and benefits, and their communication. As well as questions, a card-sorting task was used to reveal participants own concepts about these issues. A SWOT analysis was used to consider social media as a tool in food risk and benefit communication.

The insight gained from this work allowed researchers to develop a provisional framework of food risk/benefit communication issues across Europe. The framework outlines the communication requirements of different types of food risk/benefit situations, including an initial classification of the tools used, their perceived usefulness, their potential role and the impact of classical and new information routes and technologies/tools. The framework was used to inform the next stages of the project.

To find out more about this part of the FoodRisC project, listen to research leader, Wim Verbeke’s podcast


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