Trust and relationships in selected european agri-food chains

Philip Leat*, Maeve Henchion, Luis Miguel Albisu, Christian Fischer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Trust is an integral part of agri-food supply chain operation, both for ensuring food safety and quality, and facilitating the exchange relationships between businesses. Through its implicit sharing of norms and values by transacting parties, it is central to good chain relationships. This chapter explores the nature and role of trust in eight selected agri-food chains in four EU countries. Following a brief consideration of the concept of trust, the empirical analysis identifies key features of the business environments of the selected agri-food chains, and their possible influence on chain relationships. The assessment is based on 28 qualitative interviews with food chain experts. In particular, the connection between perceived trust levels and the prevailing type of vertical business relationships is explored. The findings suggest that trust is more pronounced among small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) whose representatives have personal relationships with each other. There is more trust upstream in the chain than downstream. However, there is also considerable mistrust at the farmer end in several of the studied chains. Two particular factors contribute to this situation. First, there may be a lack of chain transparency in relation to farm product quality and related prices. Second, where the general economic situation is difficult, the development of trust may be hampered, because all chain participants seek a share of a diminishing chain margin. Further downstream, where frequently larger enterprises are involved, the levels of trust between chain participants vary more substantially. Finally, if bargaining power is distributed unevenly, trust between chain partners may not fully develop.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAgri-food Chain Relationships
PublisherCABI Publishing
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781845936426
Publication statusPrint publication - 22 Jul 2010


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