Ma­jor Bar­ri­ers

Consumer Voice - - Food & Stuff -

a) Lack of knowl­edge and awareness: This is one of the pri­mary bar­ri­ers to con­sumer par­tic­i­pa­tion. Lack of fo­rums, dis­cus­sions and ac­tiv­i­ties pro­vid­ing right in­for­ma­tion re­lated to food safety is one of the rea­sons be­hind this. Con­sumers are of­ten not aware of the pro­ce­dures to com­plain against any food prod­uct that’s not up to the mark. b) Low lit­er­acy skills: It is a ma­jor bar­rier to par­tic­i­pa­tion, es­pe­cially with re­gard to those in the lower so­cioe­co­nomic seg­ment. Con­sumers from this seg­ment are also not well aware about their rights as a con­sumer. c) Lack of trust: Lack of trust may in­hibit con­sumer to­wards in­dus­try and govern­ment and might not take the re­quired ac­tion. d) Con­flict­ing mes­sages: Con­flict­ing mes­sages by dif­fer­ent groups about the same prod­uct can end up be­ing a rea­son for lack of con­sumer par­tic­i­pa­tion. Con­sumers face con­tra­dic­tory mes­sages and are un­able to make up their mind about a prod­uct, and con­se­quently hes­i­tate to take ac­tion. e) Lack of re­sources and the costs in­volved: Lack of re­sources and the costs of par­tic­i­pat­ing are also stated as bar­ri­ers to con­sumer in­volve­ment.

How Can Con­sumer Par­tic­i­pa­tion Be En­cour­aged/ Fa­cil­i­tated?

Food choices must be made con­sciously by con­sumers and it’s im­por­tant that they are well aware about the facts around food safety. Con­sumers have a right to know the con­cerns re­lated to the qual­ity of foods con­sumed by them.

Here are some ways in which con­sumer par­tic­i­pa­tion can be en­cour­aged: a) Sen­si­tis­ing the im­por­tance of con­sumer par­tic­i­pa­tion: To fa­cil­i­tate con­sumer par­tic­i­pa­tion, it’s essen­tial that con­sumers con­sider it nec­es­sary. Con­sumers must be aware about how essen­tial it is for them to par­tic­i­pate in the process and the ben­e­fits of par­tic­i­pat­ing ac­tively. b) Con­sumer ed­u­ca­tion: In gen­eral, con­sumer ed­u­ca­tion refers to the process of de­vel­op­ing and en­hanc­ing skills and knowl­edge of con­sumers so that they can make in­formed and rea­son­able choices. Con­sumer ed­u­ca­tion can help de­velop crit­i­cal think­ing and raise awareness, thereby en­abling con­sumers to be­come proac­tive. To cre­ate an im­pact­ful ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme, it’s im­por­tant that the ob­jec­tives and strate­gies thereof are well de­fined. It’s also im­por­tant that the ob­jec­tives, con­tent and de­liv­ery of con­sumer ed­u­ca­tion are cus­tomised as per the au­di­ence at which it is tar­geted. Con­sumer ed­u­ca­tion cam­paigns must fo­cus on spe­cific key is­sues, use clear and con­cise lan­guage, and of­fer prac­ti­cal ad­vice.

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