Call for papers: special issue

Currently, the food sector has reached a great level of differentiation, this has led to the
development of several certifications and labels aimed at correctly informing the consumer. In this
scenario, there is an overwhelming amount of information for the consumer that is not able to
process all the stimuli from the shopping environment to make her/his choices. Thus, most of the
choices are quickly made upon salient cues and rules of thumb. Consequently, trust has a primary
role in determining what are the informative elements that the consumer puts first to develop her/his
preferences and make choices.

We hereby invite researchers to contribute to a special issue of the International Journal on Food
System Dynamics. Submissions should relate to the role of trust in consumer food choices,
including but not restricted to:

- Certification and traceability;
- Food sensory experience;
- Multidisciplinary approach to the analysis of consumer behavior;
- New product development;
- Brand reputation;
- Quality schemes reputation;
- Consumers expectations and perceptions;
- Food products price structure.

Guidelines to paper submission
Manuscripts should not exceed the length of 25 pages (appendices not included). Submissions are due by
September 30th, 2017. All submissions will undergo a double blind, peer-review process.
Authors should ensure they adhere to the journal guidelines, which are available at:
We anticipate the final acceptance decisions by the end of December 2017, and the publications in March 2018.
Papers should be sent to Please include your name and email contact details.

Nowadays, food has reached a great level of differentiation, linked to processes, products, and
ethical issues as well. This differentiation has developed together with the related certifications.
Indeed, private entities, in order to compensate the gaps left by the public system of certification,
have issued quality labels that are able to respond to consumers’ needs more promptly.
So that, this system of food standards has become more and more specific and complex, starting
from basic elements as origin, to aspects that are decreasingly linked to the intrinsic attributes of the
product. Leading to an increasing difficulty of understanding by the final consumer (Verbeke,
Traditionally, certifications are provided by public bodies, as European Union (EU) quality
schemes: PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Protected Geographical Indication).
These certifications link the quality of a product to both a specific area and a production method,
which, in turn, are linked to the concept of terroir. Their ultimate goal is to reduce information
asymmetry signaling to consumers the presence of a bundle of quality characteristics linked to the
territory of origin (Menapace and Moschini, 2012). However, the overwhelming amount of
certifications related to different attributes, although not being actually linked to quality, can act as
such due to a “halo effect” and, thus, erroneously leading consumers to undesired choices.
In particular, mirroring the latest needs of consumers and trends of agri-food production, the
certifications are rapidly evolving towards increasingly less tangible quality features (Grunert,
2005). Indeed, nowadays most of the certifications are related to credence attributes of food
products, and thus trust plays a key role in market success of these foods.
In particular, among the many specifications of credence attributes, healthiness of food products is
gaining increasing attention both by public bodies (as shown by EU policy agenda), and by the final
consumer. In this case, however, communicating the presence of the attribute is not sufficient to
capture consumer’s attention, as while shopping for food a number of trade-off between health and
taste are offered (Verbeke, 2006). As a result, consumers are generally more responsive to hedonic
labels compared to health labels.
In this scenario, certifications and labels have to be planned and designed to get both the attention
and consumer trust to be effective. Otherwise, skepticism overrules the effectiveness of quality

Therefore, it is essential to turn the credence attribute into experience or search (Caswell and
Mojduszka, 1996). An important solution to this issue can be provided when the food product can
bring precise sensory features together with the claimed attribute. In this way, consumer can be reensured
of the healthy features of the food by other reliable information (as taste). Furthermore, in
this case, the provided information can also alter the real experience stemming from the the product
trial (Piqueras-Fiszman and Spence, 2015).

It is therefore necessary to understand how quality certifications work and how they can help both
in filling the information gap between food producers and consumers, and in fostering innovation of
food products. Papers will contribute in creating a clearer and comprehensive vision of the role of
trust as a mediator between credence attribute and the consumer’s quality judgment in the light of a
constantly innovating food sector.