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Title: An exploratory study of the factors affecting food access and food choice of consumers in remote Scottish communities
Author: Nisbet, Laura
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis aims to explore how food access impacts on consumer perceptions in relation to food choices and enhance our current understanding of how consumers use their food retail environment (Broadbridge and Calderwood, 2003; Ruston, 2002). It aims to understand what contribution food access makes to consumer food choices and their perceived access to healthy foods. Previous research has suggested consumers utilise coping mechanisms in order to manage food access issues (Furey et al, 2001; McKie, 1998; Whelan et al, 2002; Wrigley, 2004) and this thesis will describe the mechanisms used within this area and identify other factors which are relevant to consumer food choice. Fifty six semi-structured interviews were conducted to gather in depth information of the consumers' experience of food shopping in this area. Qualitative interviewing was used to explore individuals' perceptions of and the meanings they attribute to their shopping experiences and of local retail provision, as they are said to be a way of exploring relationships and is a way of uncovering and exploring the meanings that underpin people's lives, routines, behaviours, feelings etc (Rubin and Rubin, 1995). Participants were also asked to complete a 7-day shopping diary (n=40), a cupboard survey (n=56) and Food Frequency Questionnaires (n=45). They provided a behavioural context within which to explore the experiences and motivations for shopping. Remote consumers appear to have lower expectations of retail choices due to the geographical areas in which they live and the difficulties retailers face with a limited customer base. Differences in perceptions of retail food provision reflect the nature of the retail structure of an area with the presence of a large store resulting in a more favourable perception of provision. Local shops and producers play a crucial role in the community providing flexibility in ordering, delivery and supply of produce to islanders increasing options in terms of variety, quality and convenience. Consumers' perceptions of food retail provision in this research support previous suggestions of disparities in provision within rural communities (McKie et al, 1996; Furey et al, 2001). Flowever, a number of islanders have devised ways to overcome these disparities that utilise alternative food networks and draw on household and community networks to increase their choice. Alternative food networks such as local produce sales, farmers markets and home produced food were used in conjunction with the conventional food retail supply chain in order to meet the needs of participants. Many consumers use a variety of mechanisms and strategies to adapt to the unreliable food supply that they associate with the retail food system, for example growing their own vegetables and using food for barter. In this way food becomes embedded in household and community life. There is as yet no agreed definition of what constitutes adequate access. For participants in these remote communities adequate access means being able travel to a store, even if this means travelling a relatively long distance, which has a consistent range of produce providing choice, variety and quality at all times.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available