Trust in and through labelling – a systematic review and critique

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – Distrust of conventional food supply systems impacts consumer food choice. This in turn has implications for consumer nutrition outcomes and acceptance of expert advice regarding food and health. The research exploring consumer trust is found across a broad range of research streams, and is not cohesive in topic or approach. The purpose of this paper is to synthesise the disparate literature exploring the interaction between food labelling and consumer trust to determine what is known, and gaps in knowledge regarding food labelling and consumer trust. Design/methodology/approach – A systematic search of trust and food labelling literature was conducted, with study results synthesised and integrated. Studies were then critically analysed for the conceptualisation of the consumer, the label, and their interaction with a framework developed using social theories of trust. Findings – In total, 27 studies were identified. It was found that not only is the current literature predominantly atheoretical, but the conceptualisation of labelling has been limited. Research limitations/implications – Further empirical research is needed to enable a more comprehensive understanding of the role food labelling plays in influencing consumer trust in food systems. Originality/value – This research develops a conceptualisation of the dual roles food labelling may play in influencing consumer trust in food systems. It distinguishes between trust in food labeling itself, and the trust consumers develop in the food supply system through food labelling. The novel theoretical model and synthesis provide a foundation upon which future research may be conducted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-338
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Food Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2015


  • Confidence
  • Food labelling
  • Food supply
  • Food systems Paper type Literature review
  • Social theory
  • Trust


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