How do Kosovar and Albanian consumers perceive food quality and safety in the dairy sector?
Kosovo and Albania, in a manner similar to other Western Balkan countries, face serious challenges in relation to national food safety and control in terms of legislation, infrastructure, institutional capacity and private investments. Consequently, food safety is a major concern for 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, targeted more than 600 consumers. Despite the prevalent problems with food safety, Kosovars perceive domestic dairy products as significantly better than Albanians do when compared with imported food products. Conversely, 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, domestic and local origin and brand reputation. Food safety certificates are used by Albanians more often than by Kosovars, and international food standards such as ISO, HACCP or Global GAP are mostly unknown to both consumer groups.