Mandolesi, Serena, Philippa Nicholas, Simona Naspetti, & Raffaele Zanoli (2015). Identifying viewpoints on innovation in low-input and organic dairy supply chains: A Q-methodological study. Food Policy, 54, 25-34. (doi: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2015.04.008) (Link:

Abstract: In a rapidly changing ecological, economic and political environment, environmentally sustainable and energy-efficient farming systems are required (SCAR, 2008). The development and adoption of innovation are critical to improve the competitiveness of organic and low-input dairy systems. Understanding the viewpoints of dairy supply-chain members on acceptable innovation is important to be able to improve organic and low-input dairy supply chains. This study uses Stephenson’s Q methodology to investigate the opinions of organic and low-input dairy supply-chain members in relation to innovation in the dairy sector. A sample of dairy supply-chain members (consumers, farmers, retailers, processors) was recruited from each European country involved in the study (Belgium, Italy, Finland, the United Kingdom). On the one hand, the data show a high degree of consensus across all of the participants within the supply chain, for whom innovations were deemed not to be acceptable in organic (from an ethical and/or regulatory perspective) and low-input dairy systems. On the other hand, the consumer views of acceptable dairy innovations were centred around animal welfare, while the farmers and processors/retailers preferred innovations related to feed quality, feed efficiency, and soil management. This study illustrates the value of Q methodology in eliciting subjectivities about food-policy-related issues.

Raffaele Zanoli <> is in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences at Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy.