Consumer trust in the dairy value chain in China: The role of trustworthiness, melamine scandal, and media

Li, Saiwei; Wang, Yue; Tacken, Gemma M.L.; Liu, Yumei; Sijtsema, Siet J.


This study provides a deep insight into Chinese consumer trust in the Chinese dairy value chain, as a lack of trust due to the 2008 melamine scandal has been widely recognized as a barrier to the development of the domestic dairy industry in China. Based on face-to-face interviews with 954 Chinese consumers in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shijiazhuang, this study measured consumer trust in farmers, manufacturers, retailers, the government, and third parties. Consumer trust was studied by measuring the effect of beliefs on the trustworthiness of actors (i.e., competence, benevolence, integrity, credibility, and openness), and current experiences regarding the melamine scandal and the media. The results showed that the level of trust in dairy chain actors varied. The government and third parties were relatively highly trusted, whereas retailers were considered less trustworthy. The importance of consumer beliefs about trustworthiness are different among actors. Consumer belief of competence determines trust in farmers and manufacturers. For retailers, the government, and third parties, respectively, benevolence, credibility, and openness are the most important factors. Trust in dairy chain actors is still strongly negatively affected by current experiences regarding the melamine scandal, even though it occurred more than 10 years ago. Using social media to directly provide more information and establish continuous daily communication with consumers could help manufacturers and third parties to strengthen consumer trust.