Investigating the importance of product traceability in the relationship between product authenticity and consumer willingness to pay


  • Veronica Marozzo
  • Alfonso Vargas-Sánchez
  • Tindara Abbate
  • Augusto D'Amico



product authenticity; willingness to pay; product traceability; organic olive oil product; Spain


Research framework: The effects of agricultural market globalization have increased the perception of inauthentic products; therefore, consumers increasingly search for real and genuine products. Product authenticity, generally defined with terms such as real, original, unique, genuine, and traditional, is becoming a frequent evaluation criterion that guides consumer decision-making. In this perspective, the traceability of the product could play a relevant role by allowing consumers to know more about the product (i.e., the whole process), which leads to greater trust in it.

Purpose of the paper: This study explores the importance of product traceability in the relationship between product authenticity and consumer willingness to pay (WTP) for agri-food products, specifically for organic olive oil. Traceability is seen as a crucial factor in the agri-food sector, by preventing deliberate or accidental mislabeling (i.e., adulterations, fraud, scandals).

Methodology: Quantitative data were collected from a convenience sample of consumers through an online survey built on the Qualtrics software platform. The survey was performed in Spain, considered the first and most important producer of organic olive oil in the world.

Findings: The findings provide preliminary evidence that the importance of product traceability plays a mediating role in the relationship between product authenticity and consumer willingness to pay for organic olive oil.

Research limits: This study adopts an exploratory approach and was developed only in the Spanish context. It would be useful to perform the analysis in other relevant olive oil producing countries, such as Italy or Greece. Additionally, the study focused on a specific type of comestible product (i.e., organic olive oil), then to corroborate the validity and generalizability of the findings further research will focus on different edible products.

Practical implications: Findings contribute to the literature on the authenticity construct and allow implications for the marketing of agri-food products to be drawn.

Originality of the paper: Through empirical evidence, this study sheds some light on the under-investigated nature of the importance of product traceability in the relationship between product authenticity and consumer willingness to pay.


AGUINIS H., EDWARDS J.R., BRADLEY K.J. (2017), “Improving our understanding of moderation and mediation in strategic management research”, Organizational Research Methods, vol. 20, n. 4, pp. 665-685.

AMPATZIDIS Y.G., VOUGIOUKAS S.G. (2009), “Field experiments for evaluating the incorporation of RFID and barcode registration and digital weighing technologies in manual fruit harvesting”, Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, vol. 66, n. 2, pp. 166-172.

AUNG M.M., CHANG Y.S. (2014), “Traceability in a food supply chain: Safety and quality perspectives”, Food control, vol. 39, pp. 172-184.

BAI J., ZHANG C., JIANG J. (2013), “The role of certificate issuer on consumer’s willingness to pay for milk traceability in China”, Agricultural Economics, vol. 44, pp. 537-544.

BARON R.M., KENNY D.A. (1986), “The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 51, n. 6, pp. 1173.

BECKER T. (2000), “Consumer perception of fresh meat quality: a framework for analysis”, British Food Journal, vol. 102, n. 3, pp. 158-76.

BERNARD A., BROECKAERT F., DE POORTER G., DE COCK A., HERMANS C., SAEGERMAN C. (2002), “The Belgian PCB/dioxin incident: analysis of the food chain contamination and health risk evaluation”, Environmental Research, vol. 88, pp. 1-18.

BERTOLI G., RESCINITI R. (2013), “Made in Italy e Country of Origin Effect”, Mercati & Competitività, Franco Angeli, vol. 2, n. 2, pp. 13-36.

BERTOLINI M., BEVILACQUA M., MASSINI R. (2006), “FMECA approach to product traceability in the food industry”, Food Control, vol. 17, pp. 137-145.

BEVERLAND M.B., FARRELLY F.J. (2010), “The quest for authenticity in consumption: Consumers’ purposive choice of authentic cues to shape experienced outcomes”, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 36, n. 5, pp. 838-856.

BINNINGER A.S. (2017), “Perception of naturalness of food packaging and its role in consumer product evaluation”, Journal of Food Products Marketing, vol. 23, n. 3, pp. 251-266.

BOYLE D. (2003), Authenticity brands, fakes, spin and the lust for real life, Harper Collins, London.

BROWN T.A. (2015), Confirmatory factor analysis for applied research, Guilford publications.

BROWNE M.W (1974), “Generalized least squares estimators in the analysis of covariance structures”, South African Statistical Journal, vol. 8, pp.1-24.

CAMUS S. (2004), “Proposition d’échelle de mesure de l’authenticité perçue d’un produit alimentaire”, Recherche et Applications en Marketing (French Edition), vol. 19, n.4, pp. 39-63.

CARCEA M., BRERETON P., HSU R., KELLY S., MARMIROLI N., MELINI F., SOUKOULIS C. WENPING D. (2009), “Food authenticity assessment: ensuring compliance with food legislation and traceability requirements”, Quality Assurance and Safety of Crops and Foods, vol. 1, n. 2, pp. 93-100.

CASADEI E., VALLI E., PANNI F., DONARSKI J., FARRUS GUBEN J., LUCCI P., CONTE L., LACOSTE F., MAQUET, A., BRERETON P., BENDINI A., GALLINA TOSCHI T. (2021), “Emerging trends in olive oil fraud and possible countermeasures”, Food Control, Available online 20 January 2021, 107902

CHARLEBOIS S., STERLING B., HARATIFAR S., NAING S.K. (2014), “Comparison of Global Food Traceability Regulations and Requirements”, Comprensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, vol. 13, pp. 1104-1123.

CHARLEBOIS S., HARATIFAR S. (2015), “The perceived value of dairy product traceability in modern society: An exploratory study”, Journal of Dairy Science, vol. 98, n. 5, pp. 3514-3525.

CHOUSOU C., MATTAS K. (2019), “Assessing consumer attitudes and perceptions towards food authenticity”, British Food Journal,

CHOUSOU C., TSAKIRIDOU E., MATTAS K. (2018). “Valuing consumer perceptions of olive oil authenticity”, Journal of International Food and Agribusiness Marketing, vol. 30, n. 1, pp. 1-16.

CHRONIS A., HAMPTON R.D. (2008), “Consuming the authentic Gettysburg: How a tourist landscape becomes an authentic experience”, Journal of Consumer Behaviour: An International Research Review, vol. 7, n. 2, pp. 111-126.

COSTA C., ANTONUCCI F., PALLOTTINO F., AGUZZI J., SARRIÁ D., MENESATTI P. (2013), “A review on agri-food supply chain traceability by means of RFID technology”, Food and Bioprocess Technology, vol. 6, n. 2, pp. 353-366.

COUPER M.P. (2011), “The future of modes of data collection”, Public Opinion Quarterly, vol. 75, n. 5, pp. 889-908.

DEL CHIAPPA G., NAPOLITANO E., ATZENI M. (2019), “Perceived Authenticity, Satisfaction and Behavioural Intentions at Wineries,” Micro and Macro Marketing, vol. 1, pp. 119-138.

DILLMAN D.A. (2011), Mail and Internet surveys: The tailored design method--2007 Update with new Internet, visual, and mixed-mode guide, John Wiley & Sons., Hoboken, New Jersey.

DÖRNYEI Z. (2007), Research methods in applied linguistics, Oxford University Press, New York.

ENGELSETH P., WONGTHATSANEKORN W., CHAROENSIRIWATH C. (2014), “Food Product Traceability and Customer Value”, Global Business Review, vol. 15, n. 4(S), pp. 87S-105S.

EWING D.R., ALLEN C.T., EWING R.L. (2012), “Authenticity as meaning validation: An empirical investigation of iconic and indexical cues in a context of “green” products”, Journal of Consumer Behaviour, vol. 11, n. 5, pp. 381-390.

FEJES Z.L., WILSON J.M. (2013), “Cue utilization in the product authentication process: a framework and research agenda for product counterfeit prevention”, International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, vol. 37, n. 4, pp. 317-340.

FIRAT A.F., VENKATESH A. (1995), “Liberatory postmodernism and the reenchantment of consumption”, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 22, n. 3, pp. 239-267.

FORNELL C.G., BOOKSTEIN F.L. (1982), “Two structural equation models: LISREL and PLS applied to consumer exit-voice theory”, Journal of Marketing Research, vol. 19, n. 4, pp. 440-452.

FUCHS C., SCHREIER M., VAN OSSELAER S.M.J. (2015), “The handmade effect: What’s love got to do with it?”, Journal of Marketing, vol. 79, n. 2, pp. 98-110.

GHALI Z.Z. (2020), “Effect of utilitarian and hedonic values on consumer willingness to buy and to pay for organic olive oil in Tunisia”, British Food Journal, vol. 122, n. 4, pp. 1013-1026.

GILMORE J.H., PINE B.J. (2007), Authenticity: What consumers really want, Harvard Business Press.

GOODHUE D.L., LEWIS W., THOMPSON R. (2012) “Does PLS have Advantages for Small Sample Size or Non-Normal Data?”, MIS Quarterly, vol. 36, n. 3, pp. 1-21.

GRAYSON K. (2002), “Telling the difference: consumer evaluations of authentic and inauthentic marketing offerings”, Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 29, pp. 44-5.

GRAYSON K., MARTINEC R. (2004), “Consumer perceptions of iconicity and indexicality and their influence on assessments of authentic market offerings”, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 31, n. 2, pp. 296-312.

GROVES A.M. (2001), “Authentic British food products: a review of consumer perceptions”, International Journal of Consumer Studies, vol. 25, n. 3, pp. 246-254.

GRUNERT K.G. (2005), “Food quality and safety: consumer perception and demand”, European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 32, n. 3, pp. 369-91.

HAIR J.F, BLACK W.C., BABIN B.J., ANDERSON R.E. (2009), Multivariate Data Analysis (7th ed), Prentice Hall, New York.

HALEEM A., KHAN S., KHAN M.I. (2019), “Traceability implementation in food supply chain: A grey-DEMATEL approach”, Information Processing in Agriculture, vol. 6, n. 3, pp. 335-348.

HAYES A.F. (2018), Introduction to Mediation, Moderation, and Conditional Process Analysis: A Regression-Based Approach (2 ed.), Guilford publications, London.

HOU B., HOU J., WU L. (2019), “Consumer Preferences for Traceable Food with Different Functions of Safety Information Attributes: Evidence from a Menu-Based Choice Experiment in China”, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 17, n. 146 pp. 1-18.

HU L.T., BENTLER P.M., KANO Y. (1992), “Can test statistics in covariance structure analysis be trusted?”, Psychological Bulletin, vol. 112, n. 2, pp. 351-362.

JANNOO Z., YAP B.W., AUCHOYBUR N., LAZIM M.A. (2014), “The effect of nonnormality on CB-SEM and PLS-SEM path estimates”, International Journal of Mathematical, Computational, Physical and Quantum Engineering, vol. 8, n. 2, pp. 285-291.

JÖRESKOG K.G. (1969), “A general approach to confirmatory maximum likelihood factor analysis”, Psychometrika, vol. 34, pp. 183-202.

JÖRESKOG K.G., SÖRBOM D. (1993), LISREL 8: Structural equation modeling with the SIMPLIS command language, Scientific Software International.

KADIROV D. (2015), “Private labels ain’t bona fide! Perceived authenticity and willingness to pay a price premium for national brands over private labels”, Journal of Marketing Management, vol. 31, n. 17-18, pp. 1773-1798.

KENDALL H., CLARK B., RHYMER C., KUZNESOF S., HAJSLOVA J., TOMANIOVA M., BRERETON P., FREWER L. (2019), “A systematic review of consumer perceptions of food fraud and authenticity: A European perspective”, Trends in Food Science and Technology, vol. 94, pp. 79-90.

KHER S.V., FREWER L.J., JONGE J.D., WENTHOLT M., DAVIES O.H., LUIJCKX N.B.L. (2010), “Experts’ perspectives on the implementation of traceability in Europe”, British Food Journal, vol. 112, n. 3, pp. 261-274

KONSTAN J.A., SIMON ROSSER B.R., ROSS M.W., STANTON J., EDWARDS W.M. (2005), “The story of subject naught: A cautionary but optimistic tale of Internet survey research”, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, vol. 10, n. 2.

LEHMAN D.W., O’CONNOR K., CARROLL G.R. (2019), “Acting on authenticity: Individual interpretations and behavioral responses”, Review of General Psychology, vol. 23, n. 1, pp. 19-31.

LIAO S.L., MA Y.Y. (2009), “Conceptualizing consumer need for product authenticity”, International Journal of Business and Information, vol. 4, n. 1, pp. 89-114.

LUNARDO R., GUERINET R. (2007), “The influence of label on wine consumption: its effects on young consumers’ perception of authenticity and purchasing behavior”, International marketing and trade of quality food products, vol. 1, pp. 279-291.

MADDOCK S., LEEK S., FOXALL G. (1999), “Healthy eating or chips with everything?”, Nutrition and Food Science, vol. 99, n. 6, pp. 270-277.

MAROZZO V., RAIMONDO M.A., MICELI G., SCOPELLITI I. (2020), “Effects of au naturel packaging colors on willingness to pay for healthy food”, Psychology and Marketing, vol. 37, n.7, pp. 913-927.

MEENU M., CAI Q., XU B. (2019), “A critical review on analytical techniques to detect adulteration of extra virgin olive oil”, Trends in Food science and Technology, vol. 91, September, pp. 391-408.

MEMON M.A., CHEAH J.H., RAMAYAH T., TING H., CHUAH F. (2018), “Mediation analysis issues and recommendations”, Journal of Applied Structural Equation Modeling, vol. 2, n. 1, pp. 1-9.

MEMON M.A., CHEAH J.H., RAMAYAH T., TING H., CHUAH F., CHAM T.H. (2019), “Moderation analysis: issues and guidelines”, Journal of Applied Structural Equation Modeling, vol. 3, n. 1, pp. 1-11.

MICELI G. (2013), “Mediazione e moderazione nella prospettiva dei modelli di equazioni strutturali”, in Barbaranelli C., Ingoglia S., I modelli di equazioni strutturali. Temi e prospettive, LED, Milano.

MINGIONE M., BENDIXEN M., ABRATT R., “Uncovering the sources of brand authenticity in the digital era: evidence from Italian winery”, Sinergie Italian Journal of Management, vol. 38, n.1, pp. 181-205.

MINIERO G., CODINI A., BONERA M., CORVI E., BERTOLI G. (2014), “Being green: from attitude to actual consumption”, International Journal of Consumer Studies, vol. 38, n.5, pp. 521-528.

MORHART F., MALAR L., GUEVREMONT A., GIRARDIN F., GROHMANN B. (2015), “Brand authenticity: An integrative framework and measurement scale”, Journal of Consumer Psychology, vol. 25, pp. 200-218.

MUÑOZ C.L., WOOD N.T., SOLOMON M.R. (2006), “Real or blarney? A cross-cultural investigation of the perceived authenticity of Irish pubs”, Journal of Consumer Behaviour: An International Research Review, vol. 5, n.3, pp. 222-234.

OLSEN S.O. (2003), “Understanding the relationship between age and seafood consumption. The mediating role of attitude, health involvement and convenience”, Food Quality and Preference, vol. 14, n. 3, pp. 199-209.

OLSEN P., BORIT M. (2013), “How to define traciability”, Trends in Food Science and Technology, vol. 29, pp. 142-150.

O’CONNOR K., CARROLL G.R., KOVACS B. (2017), “Disambiguating authenticity: Interpretations of value and appeal”, PLoS One, vol. 12, n. 6, pp. e0179187

PAPETTI P., COSTA C., ANTONUCCI F., FIGORILLI S., SOLAINI S., MENESATTI P. (2012), “A RFID web-based infotracing system for the artisanal Italian cheese quality traceability”, Food Control, vol. 27, n.1, pp. 234-241.

PARK J., JAVALGI R., WACHTER M. (2016), “Product ethnicity and perceived consumer authenticity: the moderating role of product type”, Journal of Consumer Marketing, vol. 33, n. 6, pp. 458-468.

PERI C. (2002), “Rintracciabilità della filiera dei prodotti agroalimentare: significato, metodi e strumenti”, Atti del Convegno “Rintracciabilità di filiera per una provincia trasparente”, Cuneo. Available from:

PICCOLO D., CAPECCHI S., IANNARIO M., CORDUAS M. (2013), Modelling consumer preferences for extra virgin olive oil: The Italian case, Politica Agricola Internazionale - International Agricultural Policy, Edizioni L’Informatore Agrario, n. 1, March.

PING Jr R.A. (2004), “On assuring valid measures for theoretical models using survey data”, Journal of Business Research, vol. 57, n.2, pp. 125-141.

RABIEI Z., ENFERADI S.T. (2012), Traceability of origin and authenticity of olive oil, INTECH Open Access Publisher.

REGATTIERI A., GAMBERI M., MANZINI R. (2007), “Traceability of food products: general framework and experimental evidence”, Journal of Food Engineering, vol. 81, n. 2, pp. 347-356.

REINARTZ W., HAENLEIN M., HENSELER J. (2009), “An empirical comparison of the efficacy of covariance-based and variance-based SEM”, International Journal of Research in Marketing, vol. 26, n. 4, pp. 332-344.

RÖHR A., LÜDDECKE K., DRUSCH S., MÜLLER M.J., ALVENSLEBEN R.V. (2005), “Food quality and safety: Consumer perception and public health concern”, Food Control, vol. 16, n. 8, pp. 649-55.

SIDALI L.K., HEMMERLING S. (2014), “Developing an authenticity model of traditional food specialties: Does the self-concept of consumers matter?”, British Food Journal, vol. 116, n. 11, pp.1692-1709.

SIMS R. (2009), “Food, place and authenticity: local food and the sustainable tourism experience”, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, vol. 17, n.3, pp. 321-336.

SMIECHOWSKA M., KLOBUKOWSKI F. (2015), “Quality Assurance of Food versus Limiting Food Loss and Waste”, Journal of Management and Finance, vol. 13, n. 2, pp. 93-103.

SMITH R.K., NEWMAN G.E., DHAR R. (2016), “Closer to the creator: Temporal contagion explains the preference for earlier serial numbers”, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 42, n. 5, pp. 653-668.

SPIELMANN N., CHARTERS S. (2013), “The dimensions of authenticity in terroir products”, International Journal of Wine Business Research, vol. 25, n. 4, pp. 310-324.

THOMPSON L.F., SURFACE E.A., MARTIN D.L., SANDERS M.G. (2003), “From paper to pixels: Moving personnel surveys to the Web”, Personnel Psychology, vol. 56, n. 1, pp. 197-227.

TSAKIRIDOU E., MATTAS K., TZIMITRA-KALOGIANNI I. (2006), “The influence of consumer characteristics and attitudes on the demand for organic olive oil”, Journal of International Food and Agribusiness Marketing, vol. 18, n. 3-4, pp. 23-31.

VAN GIESENA R.I., DE HOOGEB I.E. (2019), “Too ugly, but I love its shape: Reducing food waste of suboptimal products with authenticity (and sustainability) positioning”, Food Quality and Preference, vol. 75, pp. 249-259.

VERBEKE W., WARD R.W. (2006), “Consumer Interest in Beef Quality and Country-of- Origin: An Application of Ordered Probit Models to Belgium Beef Labels”, Food Quality and Preference, vol. 17, n.1-2, pp. 126-131.

XIU C., KLEIN K.K. (2010), “Melamine in milk products in China: Examining the factors that led to deliberate use of the contaminant”, Food Policy, vol. 35, n. 5, pp. 463-470.

YANGUI A., COSTA-FONT M., GIL J.M. (2016), “The effect of personality traits on consumers’ preferences for extra virgin olive oil”, Food Quality and Preference, vol. 51, pp. 27-38.

ZHANG C., BAI J., WAHL T.I. (2012), “Consumers’ willingness to pay for traceable pork, milk, and cooking oil in Nanjing, China”, Food Control, vol. 27, n. 1, pp. 21-28.