Producer constructions of quality in regional speciality food production: A case study from south west England

Brian Ilbery, Moya Kneafsey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    287 Citations (Scopus)


    Within the context of recent concerns over potential health threats from BSE, E. Coli and genetically modified organisms, food quality is of increasing importance in contemporary British society. Thus food producers, retailers and government institutions are engaged in an attempt to reassure consumers that their food is of high quality and safe to consume. Yet, the concept of 'quality' is one which is contested, constructed and represented differently by diverse actors operating within a variety of regulatory and market arenas. The aim of this paper is focus on one set of actors who interact to construct notions of quality within a niche market arena, namely small producers of regional speciality food products (SFPs) in the south west of England. It emerges that, despite new regulatory frameworks and consumer concerns, producers usually define quality in terms of product specification and attraction rather than through official certification schemes or association with region of origin. Food quality, however defined by producers, is essentially self-regulated and constructed within the context of maintaining stable relationships between producers and buyers. Furthermore, marketing is based on low-cost methods which demand a high personal input of time and energy from the entrepreneur. Quality, therefore, must be understood as a contested notion which is constructed by actors attempting to build stable and lasting networks between themselves and others within the market arena. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)217-230
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Rural Studies
    Issue number2
    Early online date23 Feb 2000
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2000

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2004 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam. All rights reserved.

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Development
    • Sociology and Political Science


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