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Consumer influence on internet‐based corporate communication of environmental activities: the UK food sector

Janet Haddock (Department of Agricultural Science, Imperial College, Ashford, UK)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 1 October 2005

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Abstract

Purpose

Aims to demonstrate whether consumers influence provision of environmental communications by the UK food sector, challenging the view that such reporting is principally targeted at institutional stakeholders and shareholders.

Design/methodology/approach

Web site research was undertaken on a sample of 43 manufacturers and 16 retailers on provision of environmental information of a policy (intent) or reporting (action‐based) nature, analysed using chi‐square techniques assessing the significance of turnover, public listing, brand‐name companies, consumer‐goods companies and media allegations on the provision of environmental information.

Findings

Turnover, public listing, brand‐names, consumer‐focus and media allegations all affected provision of environmental information by UK food companies, suggesting that greater consumer‐focus leads to the perception that provision of such information into the public/consumer domain is important.

Research limitations/implications

The sample size selected was relatively small, and findings were based on the assumption that the internet is an accurate and appropriate means of conveying environmental information to the consumer. Further research could test such findings with a larger sample and a consumer survey to confirm interest in corporate environmental information provision.

Practical implications

There are important implications for UK food companies considering environmental actions and communications, particularly for brand‐name‐ or consumer‐focused companies. Reporting is seen as a necessary defence but may also offer opportunities for differentiated competitive advantage.

Originality/value

This paper is very valuable in challenging the traditional view that corporate environmental reporting is largely of interest to shareholders and other institutional stakeholders. It demonstrates the need for brand‐name‐ and consumer‐focused food companies to communicate their environmental performance, whether for competitive advantage or as a defensive strategy.

Keywords

Citation

Haddock, J. (2005), "Consumer influence on internet‐based corporate communication of environmental activities: the UK food sector", British Food Journal, Vol. 107 No. 10, pp. 792-805. https://doi.org/10.1108/00070700510623559

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited