In 2018 HERAS – Higher Education, Research and Applied Science – awarded a research grant to the Institute of Marketing & Innovation, submitted by Rainer Haas in collaboration with researchers from Kosovo and Albania (https://www.heraskosovo.org). HERAS projects are funded by the Austrian Development Cooperation and the Republic of Kosovo and aim to increase participation of faculties, institutes and individual researchers from Kosovo, Albania and other West Balkan Countries in international research cooperation and improved human capacities for teaching and research. The title of the projects is Food Consumer Behaviour and Perception on Food Safety and Quality - the case of Kosovo and Albania.
On June 11, 2019, Rainer Haas presented in collaboration with researchers from the University of Prishtina (“Hasan Prishtina”) and from the Agricultural University of Tirana first results about their study on consumer awareness and perception of food safety issues in Kosovo and Albania. He also gave a presentation on how Austrian companies use food trends for successful food marketing. Invited participants of the workshop were stakeholders from the Kosovar agriculture and food value chain. Representatives were from the Ministry of Agriculture, the “Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit” (GIZ, https://www.giz.de/), the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and from the Association of Fruits and Vegetable Producers of Kosovo (www.pepeko.org), besides others.
Kosovo and Albania, similar to other Western Balkan countries, face serious challenges with the national food safety and control in terms of legislation, infrastructure, institutional capacity and private investments. Therefore, food safety is a major concern to consumers in this region. The objective of this study was to gain a better understanding of consumer perspectives on food safety and quality. Two surveys, one with consumers in Prishtina and one in Tirana (capital and largest cities of Kosovo and Albania respectively), targeted more than 600 consumers. Despite the prevalent problems with food safety, Kosovars perceive domestic dairy products as significantly better than Albanians in respect to imported food products. On the other side Albanian consumers use food safety and quality related information about cheese and milk more frequently. The most frequently used safety and quality cues for both samples are expiry date, information about domestic and local origin and brand reputation. Food safety certificates are more often used by Albanians than Kosovars, and international food standards such as ISO, HACCP or Global GAP are mostly unknown by both consumer groups.
Those findings are useful for policy makers and food companies to improve food safety standards and the awareness and knowledge of consumers about it. They underline the importance of food label information such as expiry date/best before date, of strong brands and of a need to clearly and transparently communicate the country of origin, or the local origin. The high awareness about the national Food and Veterinary Agency shows how important it is to establish national food safety and quality organizations. For example, in the case of Austria, during EU accession, the government established AMA (Agricultural Market Austria) an agricultural organization, independent from the Ministry of Agriculture, to be focused on food safety, quality and food marketing. AMA was responsible to harmonize the legal framework for food production, food safety and marketing. AMA coordinates more than 40.000 food safety controls per year in Austria. It developed a nationwide quality and origin certificate, the AMA quality seal, which is one of the best-known food certificates in Austria nowadays. It would be highly advisable for Kosovo and Albania to establish a similar organization, especially in respect to the existing EU accession plans.
After opening remarks from Prof. Dr. Muje Gjonbalaj of the Faculty of Agriculture and Verinary and Dr. Ekrem Gjokaj form the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development, Assoc. Prof. Rainer Haas, from the Institute of Marketing & Innovation gave a presentation about “How Austrian companies use Food Trends for successful Product Innovation”. Followed by Dr. Iliriana Miftari’s presentation on “Kosovo consumer awareness and preferences for food safety and quality, with focus on the dairy sector” from the Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary in Prishtina. Assoc. Prof. Drini Imami gave the final presentation about “Consumer Awareness and perceptions for food safety and quality – the case of Albania”.
Kontakt: Ao. Univ. Prof. DI Dr. Rainer Haas
Institut für Marketing & Innovation
Copyrights: Rainer Haas, Iliriana Miftari, and Drini Imami