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Title: A critical evaluation of perceptions of drivers for organic food production in the UK
Author: Khanfer, Abdulhamid M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2667 6519
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2007
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This research was designed to evaluate and critically analyse organic food production in the UK. The main aims of this study were: 1) To investigate drivers and barriers for change from conventional to organic food for producers; for consumers; for supermarkets and small organic processors; 2) To quantity the impacts of interrelationships on organic farming growth and development; 3) To critically assess tensions between stakeholders. A mixed methods approach was applied in order to achieve these. This involved firstly an in-depth postal questionnaire survey (637 organic farmers) in different regions of England with selective follow-up telephone interviews. This was to assess drivers and barriers toward conversion and dealt solely with farmers that had gone through the process. Second, was a series of detailed personal interviews with representatives from major supermarket chains. Thirdly, interviews were conducted with the managers of five different types of alternative market outlets in South Yorkshire. Finally, information on consumer perspectives and issues was collected and interrogated from the extensive available literature. Representatives of the Soil Association were also contacted and interviewed. Mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) were used to gather pertinent information, and where appropriate this was tested statistically using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software. The qualitative information was analysed and interpreted. Qualitative findings of (10 interviews) were transcribed, critically analysed, triangulated, and interpreted. The research highlighted key issues and suggested critical tensions that may affect the future development of organic farming in the UK. All stakeholders seemed aware of the value of positive interrelationships but there was divergence in the interpretation of this perhaps reflecting stakeholder interests. Local producers viewed the big retailers' practice of importation for guarantee of supply, of quality, and of low price as an obstacle. The representatives of the supermarkets made claims about their commitment to local producers, to UK organic farmers and to others that seem to be exaggerated and certainly at odds with the views of other stakeholders. There were issues raised about confusion in terminology and in quality marking or labelling. The wider public do not understand the differences between local, organic, seasonal, and conservation products for example. Again, seasonality was raised as a serious issue. Sales direct from producer to consumer, and through specialist alternative outlets help provide routes to consumers that miss the supermarkets' stranglehold. They also help build trust and to educate and inform the consumer. Some of these issues are noted as areas for further research. The study assessed and highlighted for the first time some interesting and exciting aspects of the interrelationships between key stakeholders. It also identified critical factors in terms of how these may influence the growth and development of organic farming.
Supervisor: Rotherham, Ian ; Eastham, Jane Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available