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Country of Origin Effect for Food Products from Developing and Transition Countries: A PLS Analysis of German Consumers’ Perception

Otter, Verena, Prechtel, Bianca, Theuvsen, Ludwig
Journal of international food & agribusiness marketing 2018 v.30 no.4 pp. 355-381
chocolate, consumer attitudes, food quality, foods, nongovernmental organizations, protected designation of origin, surveys
This study investigates the importance of the country of origin (COO) effect in German consumers’ perception of chocolate quality using the example of chocolate made from Ecuadorian raw cocoa. From earlier COO and consumer perception research, a complex research framework grounded in schema and attribution theory has been developed acknowledging the multifactorial character of consumers’ food quality perception. Based on this framework, a PLS analysis of primary data from an online survey of 205 German chocolate consumers is conducted. The results demonstrate the overall applicability of the research framework and give evidence on the underlying complex consumer perception process of COO-labeled food products. For the case of chocolate made from Ecuadorian cocoa, PLS estimations show a strong COO effect in German consumers’ quality perceptions and identify characteristics of the target consumer group. Protecting geographical indications may offer a potential for products from developing and transition countries to differentiate in the German market, a prime example for European markets, and should be promoted more strongly by government offices and NGOs.