The Food Marketing Research Unit’s (FMRU) main role is to contribute to the improved strategic marketing performance of the Irish agri-food sector by addressing the need for more future-oriented consumer and market insights. Developing capabilities and use of best practices and technologies is critical to increasing employment, income, and profi tability. Through national and EU funding, Teagasc examines innovation at farm and firm level.

Recent Submissions

  • Exploring the relationship between mastitis risk perceptions and farmers’ readiness to engage in milk recording

    Regan, Áine; Clifford, Seán; Burrell, Alison M.G.; Balaine, Lorraine; Dillon, Emma; Animal Health Ireland (Elsevier, 2021-08-31)
    The need to move towards Selective Dry Cow Therapy (SDCT) has become increasingly pertinent as a means to reduce the use of antibiotics in the dairy sector. With the EU 2022 ban on prophylactic antibiotics at drying off, practices on some farms will need to drastically change. In Ireland, one particular challenge to the sector-wide transition to SDCT is the lack of widespread uptake of milk recording across dairy farms, a decision support tool which can support mastitis control and help identify cows to select for SDCT. The current study examined readiness to engage in milk recording amongst Irish dairy farmers, and specifically investigated the role of mastitis risk perceptions in shaping farmers’ readiness. The study explores the multifaceted nature of risk perception as a construct shaping farmers’ attitudes. An online survey was carried out with 197 Irish dairy farmers exploring their attitudes towards mastitis and milk recording. A cluster analysis classified farmers according to their mastitis risk perceptions, with 3 segments identified with differing risk perception profiles. Elevated mastitis risk perceptions were linked to an increased readiness to milk record. However, this relationship was not universal across all farmers. One segment of farmers in the current study maintain low mastitis risk perceptions and remain unmotivated to engage in milk recording. The study concludes that targeted risk communication strategies related to mastitis and milk recording are needed to encourage the move towards SDCT and reduced AMR. Results suggest that the types of risk communication strategies – message framing and two-way risk communication – should reflect farmers’ types of mastitis risk perceptions to have the most effective impact on milk recording uptake.
  • A Multi-Actor Literature Review on Alternative and Sustainable Food Systems for the Promotion of Cereal Biodiversity

    Sacchi, Giovanna; Cei, Leonardo; Stefani, Gianluca; Lombardi, Ginevra; Rocchi, Benedetto; Belletti, Giovanni; Padel, Susanne; Sellars, Anna; Gagliardi, Edneia; Nocella, Giuseppe; et al. (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2018-11-02)
    Organic and low-input food systems are emerging worldwide in answer to the sustainability crisis of the conventional agri-food sector. “Alternative” systems are based on local, decentralized approaches to production and processing, regarding quality and health, and short supply-chains for products with strong local identities. Diversity is deeply embedded in these food systems, from the agrobiodiversity grown in farmers’ fields, which improves resilience and adaptation, to diverse approaches, contexts and actors in food manufacturing and marketing. Diversity thus becomes a cross-sectoral issue which acknowledges consumers’ demand for healthy products. In the framework of the European project “CERERE, CEreal REnaissance in Rural Europe: embedding diversity in organic and low-input food systems”, the paper aims at reviewing recent research on alternative and sustainable food systems by adopting an innovative and participatory multi-actor approach; this has involved ten practitioners and twenty-two researchers from across Europe and a variety of technical backgrounds in the paper and analysis stages. The participatory approach is the main innovation and distinctive feature of this literature review. Partners selected indeed what they perceived as most relevant in order to facilitate a transition towards more sustainable and diversity based cereal systems and food chains. This includes issues related to alternative food networks, formal and informal institutional settings, grass root initiatives, consumer involvement and, finally, knowledge exchange and sustainability. The review provides an overview of recent research that is relevant to CERERE partners as well as to anyone interested in alternative and sustainable food systems. The main objective of this paper was indeed to present a narrative of studies, which can form the foundation for future applied research to promote alternative methods of cereal production in Europe.
  • Plasma lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations associated with musculoskeletal health and incident frailty in The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA)

    Murphy, Caoileann H.; Duggan, Eoin; Davis, James; O'Halloran, Aisling M.; Knight, Silvin P.; Kenny, Rose Anne; McCarthy, Sinead N.; Romero-Ortuno, Roman; Teagasc Research Leaders 2025 programme; H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2023-01)
    Introduction Lutein and zeaxanthin are diet-derived carotenoids that are proposed to help mitigate frailty risk and age-related declines in musculoskeletal health via their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the association between lutein and zeaxanthin status and indices of musculoskeletal health and incident frailty among community-dwelling adults aged ≥50 years in the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA). Methods Cross-sectional analyses (n = 4513) of plasma lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations and grip strength, usual gait speed, timed up-and-go (TUG), probable sarcopenia (defined as grip strength <27 kg in men, <16 kg in women), and bone mass (assessed using calcaneal broadband ultrasound stiffness index) were performed at Wave 1 (2009–2011; baseline). In the longitudinal analyses (n = 1425–3100), changes in usual gait speed (at Wave 3, 2014–2015), grip strength (Wave 4, 2016) and TUG (at Wave 5, 2018), incident probable sarcopenia (at Wave 4) and incident frailty (Fried's phenotype, Frailty Index, FRAIL Scale, Clinical Frailty Scale-classification tree, at Wave 5) were determined. Data were analysed using linear and ordinal logistic regression, adjusted for confounders. Results Cross-sectionally, plasma lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations were positively associated with usual gait speed (B [95 % CI] per 100-nmol/L higher concentration: Lutein 0.59 [0.18, 1.00], Zeaxanthin 1.46 [0.37, 2.55] cm/s) and inversely associated with TUG time (Lutein −0.07 [−0.11, −0.03], Zeaxanthin −0.14 [−0.25, −0.04] s; all p < 0.01), but not with grip strength or probable sarcopenia (p > 0.05). Plasma lutein concentration was positively associated with bone stiffness index (0.54 [0.15, 0.93], p < 0.01). Longitudinally, among participants who were non-frail at Wave 1, higher plasma lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations were associated lower odds of progressing to a higher frailty category (e.g. prefrailty or frailty) by Wave 5 (ORs 0.57–0.89, p < 0.05) based on the Fried's phenotype, FRAIL Scale and the Clinical Frailty Scale, and in the case of zeaxanthin, Frailty Index. Neither plasma lutein nor zeaxanthin concentrations were associated with changes in musculoskeletal indices or incident probable sarcopenia (p > 0.05). Conclusion Higher plasma lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations at baseline were associated with a reduced likelihood of incident frailty after ~8 years of follow up. Baseline plasma lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations were also positively associated with several indices of musculoskeletal health cross-sectionally but were not predictive of longitudinal changes in these outcomes over 4–8 years.
  • A time of transition: changes in Irish food behaviour and potential implications due to the COVID-19 pandemic

    Henchion, Maeve; McCarthy, Sinead N; McCarthy, M.; Corona Cooking Study Group (Teagasc, 2021-05-13)
    Consumers’ food choice decisions are generally relatively stable over time; consumers engage in habitual decision-making due to the high frequency of such decisions for efficiency reasons. As a result, habits are strong predictors of eating behaviour. However, changes in the life of the individual or the external environment can result in more conscious consideration of food choice motives and a transition to new patterns of behaviour to fit the new context. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is examined in this paper as a particularly useful case of how a change in context affects food choice trajectories. Drawing on results from an online survey of 651 food consumers in Ireland, it examines food planning, shopping, preparation and eating behaviour, including stockpiling and influences on decision-making. Overall, it finds significant evidence of a transition towards new patterns of behaviours, with two distinct clusters identified – the “Covid copers” and the “restless restrictors”. For both groups, the shopping experience has become stressful resulting in reduced frequency of shopping and higher levels of planning. Conversely, time pressures related to cooking have reduced, with enjoyment associated with such activities. This is also reflected in stockpiling behaviour; the top three foods most likely to have been stockpiled in Ireland were pasta/rice, eggs and flour, reflecting the nation’s desire to bake and cook during the pandemic. These behaviours are discussed in the context of emerging supply chain actor responses, with considerations for future strategic decisions identified, along with some opportunities for public health nutrition interventions.
  • Beyond ruminants: discussing opportunities for alternative pasture uses in New Zealand

    Lucci, Gina M.; Henchion, Maeve; Lange, Lene; Ledgard, Stewart F.; Collie, Stewart R.; Cosgrove, Gerald P.; Meyer, Anne S.; Graichen, Florian H.M.; Barth, Susanne; Lenehan, James J. (New Zealand Grassland Association, 2019-10-28)
    The New Zealand government has set ambitious goals for primary sector growth and of zero net carbon emissions by 2050. This presents an opportunity and obligation to develop new ideas for grassland production systems to increase export value and generate new job opportunities, while reducing environmental impacts. The aim of this paper is to draw on recent research in Europe to investigate some of the alternative and complementary uses for pasture as a feedstock for a green biorefinery. A biorefinery is a facility, or a series of processes, that convert biomass into a spectrum of value-added products. For example, protein can be extracted mechanically from green biomass once harvested. The residual fibre fraction could be used as a low-nitrogen feed for ruminants to reduce urinary nitrogen, while the liquid protein fraction could be processed to make it suitable for mono-gastric or human consumption. Enzymes can promote protein extraction and controlled conversion of insoluble plant fibres and oligosaccharides to foster gut-health promoting prebiotic food ingredients. Anaerobic digestion of residues can then be used to create energy and soilimproving products. Research and demonstration of these approaches in practice, along with the results of feasibility studies, will be required to see which of these opportunities is a good fit for New Zealand pasture systems.
  • Investigating the Effectiveness of Representations Based on Word-Embeddings in Active Learning for Labelling Text Datasets

    Lu, Jinghui; Henchion, Maeve; Mac Namee, Brian (2021-11-23)
    Manually labelling large collections of text data is a timeconsuming and expensive task, but one that is necessary to support machine learning based on text datasets. Active learning has been shown to be an effective way to alleviate some of the effort required in utilising large collections of unlabelled data for machine learning tasks without needing to fully label them. The representation mechanism used to represent text documents when performing active learning, however, has a significant influence on how effective the process will be. While simple vector representations such as bag-of-words have been shown to be an effective way to represent documents during active learning, the emergence of representation mechanisms based on the word embeddings prevalent in neural network research (e.g. word2vec and transformer based models like BERT) offer a promising, and as yet not fully explored, alternative. This paper describes a large-scale evaluation of the effectiveness of different text representation mechanisms for active learning across 8 datasets from varied domains. This evaluation shows that using representations based on modern word embeddings, especially BERT, which have not yet been widely used in active learning, achieves a significant improvement over more commonly used vector representations like bag-of-words.
  • Diverging Divergences: Examining Variants of Jensen Shannon Divergence for Corpus Comparison Tasks

    Lu, Jinghui; Henchion, Maeve; Mac Namee, Brian; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Science Foundation Ireland; 2016053; 12/RC/2289 P2 (2021-11-16)
    Jensen-Shannon divergence (JSD) is a distribution similarity measurement widely used in natural language processing. In corpus comparison tasks, where keywords are extracted to reveal the divergence between different corpora (for example, social media posts from proponents of different views on a political issue), two variants of JSD have emerged in the literature. One of these uses a weighting based on the relative sizes of the corpora being compared. In this paper we argue that this weighting is unnecessary and, in fact, can lead to misleading results. We recommend that this weighted version is not used. We base this recommendation on an analysis of the JSD variants and experiments showing how they impact corpus comparison results as the relative sizes of the corpora being compared change.
  • Does supplementation with leucine-enriched protein alone and in combination with fish-oil-derived n–3 PUFA affect muscle mass, strength, physical performance, and muscle protein synthesis in well-nourished older adults? A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

    Murphy, Caoileann H; Flanagan, Ellen M; De Vito, Giuseppe; Susta, Davide; Mitchelson, Kathleen A J; de Marco Castro, Elena; Senden, Joan M G; Goessens, Joy P B; Mikłosz, Agnieszka; Chabowski, Adrian; et al. (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2021-04-19)
    Background Leucine-enriched protein (LEU-PRO) and long-chain (LC) n–3 (ω–3) PUFAs have each been proposed to improve muscle mass and function in older adults, whereas their combination may be more effective than either alone. Objective The impact of LEU-PRO supplementation alone and combined with LC n–3 PUFAs on appendicular lean mass, strength, physical performance and myofibrillar protein synthesis (MyoPS) was investigated in older adults at risk of sarcopenia. Methods This 24-wk, 3-arm parallel, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in 107 men and women aged ≥65 y with low muscle mass and/or strength. Twice daily, participants consumed a supplement containing either LEU-PRO (3 g leucine, 10 g protein; n = 38), LEU-PRO plus LC n–3 PUFAs (0.8 g EPA, 1.1 g DHA; LEU-PRO+n–3; n = 38), or an isoenergetic control (CON; n = 31). Appendicular lean mass, handgrip strength, leg strength, physical performance, and circulating metabolic and renal function markers were measured pre-, mid-, and postintervention. Integrated rates of MyoPS were assessed in a subcohort (n = 28). Results Neither LEU-PRO nor LEU-PRO+n–3 supplementation affected appendicular lean mass, handgrip strength, knee extension strength, physical performance or MyoPS. However, isometric knee flexion peak torque (treatment effect: −7.1 Nm; 95% CI: −12.5, −1.8 Nm; P < 0.01) was lower postsupplementation in LEU-PRO+n–3 compared with CON. Serum triacylglycerol and total adiponectin concentrations were lower, and HOMA-IR was higher, in LEU-PRO+n–3 compared with CON postsupplementation (all P < 0.05). Estimated glomerular filtration rate was higher and cystatin c was lower in LEU-PRO and LEU-PRO+n–3 postsupplementation compared with CON (all P < 0.05). Conclusions Contrary to our hypothesis, we did not observe a beneficial effect of LEU-PRO supplementation alone or combined with LC n–3 PUFA supplementation on appendicular lean mass, strength, physical performance or MyoPS in older adults at risk of sarcopenia. This trial was registered at as NCT03429491.
  • Irish dairy farmers’ engagement with animal health surveillance services: Factors influencing sample submission

    McFarland, Lauren; Macken-Walsh, Áine; Claydon, Grace; Casey, Mícheál; Douglass, Alexander; McGrath, Guy; McAloon, Conor G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; RSF 17/S/230 (Science Direct, 2020-08-26)
    A high-quality animal health surveillance service is required to inform policy and decision-making in food-animal disease control, to substantiate claims regarding national animal health status and for the early detection of exotic or emerging diseases. In Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine provides partially subsidized testing of farm animal samples and postmortem examinations to the Irish agriculture sector (farmers) at 6 regional veterinary laboratories (RVL) throughout the country. Diagnoses and data from these submissions are recorded and reported monthly and annually to enable animal health monitoring and disease surveillance. In a passive surveillance model, both the veterinary practitioner and the farmer play a vital role in sample submission by determining which cases are sent to the laboratory for postmortem or diagnostic testing. This paper identified factors influencing Irish dairy farmers' decisions to submit carcasses to RVL. Behavioral determinants of the submission of samples where veterinary professionals are concerned has been studied previously; however, limited work has studied determinants among farmers. This study conducted qualitative analyses of decisions of Irish dairy farmers relevant to diagnostic sample submission to an RVL and to examine the herd-level characteristics of farmers that submitted cases to an RVL. The biographical narrative interpretive method was used to interview 5 case-study farmers who were classified nonsubmitters, medium, or high submitters to the postmortem service based on the proportion of on-farm mortalities submitted to the laboratory service in 2016. The data obtained from these interviews were supplemented and triangulated through dairy farmer focus groups. The data were thematically analyzed and described qualitatively. In addition, quantitative analysis was undertaken. Data for herds within the catchment area of a central RVL were extracted, and a multivariable logistic regression model was constructed to examine the relationship between herds from which carcasses were submitted to the laboratory and those from which none were submitted. Results from the analysis show that the farmer's veterinary practitioner was the primary influence on submission of carcasses to the laboratory. Similarly, the type of incident, logistical issues with transporting carcasses to the laboratory, influence of peers, presence of alternative private laboratories, and a fear of government involvement were key factors emerging from the case-study interview and focus group data. Herd size was identified in both the qualitative and quantitative analysis as a factor determining submission. In the logistic regression model, herd size and increased levels of expansion were positively correlated with the odds of submission, whereas distance from the laboratory was negatively associated with odds of submission. These results identify the main factors influencing the use of diagnostic services for surveillance of animal health, signaling how services may be made more attractive by policy makers to a potentially wider cohort of users.
  • Barriers to uptake of technology in animal production

    Macken-Walsh, Aine (Teagasc, 2019-12-06)
    Presentation from the Joint Teagasc-SRUC Conference "Rural Futures II: Towards sustainable solutions for Ruminant Pastoral Agricultural Systems in Scotland and Ireland"
  • The Impact of a Values-Based Supply Chain (VBSC) on Farm-Level Viability, Sustainability and Resilience: Case Study Evidence

    Hooks, Teresa; Macken-Walsh, Aine; McCarthy, Olive; Power, Carol; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (MDPI, 2017-02-14)
    The ‘Agriculture of the Middle’ (AotM) development paradigm emphasises that in order to survive, family farms must transition from a supply chain approach to a values-based supply chain (VBSC) approach, involving amendments to both product type and actor dynamics within the chain. This paper presents a qualitative case study of a beef co-operative integrated to a VBSC. We use an analytical framework of viability, sustainability and resilience to analyse impacts at farm-level. Our analysis highlights a number of positive effects on farm-level viability, sustainability and resilience. These benefits stemmed largely from improvements to market orientation, price stability, and members’ capacities in responding to problems. However, the autonomy of the co-operative was challenged by VBSC chain members, which impacted negatively on the stability of the co-operative.
  • Making sense of altmetrics: The perceived threats and opportunities for academic identity

    Regan, Aine; Henchion, Maeve; CommBeBiz Project; European Union; 652707 (Oxford University Press, 2019-01-30)
    How research impact is defined and evaluated is much-debated at research policy level. Offering one avenue for capturing societal research impact, altmetrics are proposed as quantitative indicators providing a measure of the reach and attention that a research output, such as a peer-reviewed paper, is receiving online. Eighty publicly-funded food researchers participated in an online mixed-methods engagement study. The analytical framework of sensemaking was used to explore participants’ views of altmetrics as a threat or opportunity for their perceived professional identities. The identities important to our participants included ensuring rigour and quality in knowledge production; communicating and engaging with non-academic audiences; and bringing about tangible and meaningful changes in society. While an appetite for changes to research evaluation was apparent in our study, altmetrics was perceived to introduce a number of different threats as well as opportunities to the academic identity, which will influence its potential uptake and use.
  • Future Protein Supply and Demand: Strategies and Factors Influencing a Sustainable Equilibrium

    Henchion, Maeve; Hayes, Maria; Mullen, Anne Maria; Fenelon, Mark; Tiwari, Brijesh K; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 11/F/043 (MDPI, 2017-07-20)
    A growing global population, combined with factors such as changing socio-demographics, will place increased pressure on the world’s resources to provide not only more but also different types of food. Increased demand for animal-based protein in particular is expected to have a negative environmental impact, generating greenhouse gas emissions, requiring more water and more land. Addressing this “perfect storm” will necessitate more sustainable production of existing sources of protein as well as alternative sources for direct human consumption. This paper outlines some potential demand scenarios and provides an overview of selected existing and novel protein sources in terms of their potential to sustainably deliver protein for the future, considering drivers and challenges relating to nutritional, environmental, and technological and market/consumer domains. It concludes that different factors influence the potential of existing and novel sources. Existing protein sources are primarily hindered by their negative environmental impacts with some concerns around health. However, they offer social and economic benefits, and have a high level of consumer acceptance. Furthermore, recent research emphasizes the role of livestock as part of the solution to greenhouse gas emissions, and indicates that animal-based protein has an important role as part of a sustainable diet and as a contributor to food security. Novel proteins require the development of new value chains, and attention to issues such as production costs, food safety, scalability and consumer acceptance. Furthermore, positive environmental impacts cannot be assumed with novel protein sources and care must be taken to ensure that comparisons between novel and existing protein sources are valid. Greater alignment of political forces, and the involvement of wider stakeholders in a governance role, as well as development/commercialization role, is required to address both sources of protein and ensure food security.
  • Farmer engagement with agri-environment schemes in a commonage setting in Co. Mayo

    McCarthy, Jack (Teagasc, 2018)
    This document summarises research carried out in a commonage sheep farming area of County Mayo between January and August of 2017. The research seeks to better understand commonage farmer perceptions and engagement with agri-environment schemes.
  • The Significance of Short Food Supply Chains: Trends and Bottlenecks from the SKIN Thematic Network

    Hyland, John J.; Crehan, Patrick; Colantuono, Fedele; Macken-Walsh, Aine; European Union; 728055 (Research Institute of Agricultural Economics, 2019-08-13)
    Short Food Supply Chains (SFSCs) are central to the alternative food movement discourse. SFSCs are based upon the interrelations among actors who are directly involved in the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of food products. They depend upon actors mobilising resources of various kinds: skills; knowledge; labour; capital; buildings etc. External factors such as policies and regulations can also encourage the creation of these shorter chains. The development of SFSCs can still be hindered by a range of other factors. Nevertheless, bottlenecks can be overcome via the sharing of information on successful SFSCs through the dissemination of Good Practices between various actors and territories. The Short Supply Chain Knowledge and Innovation (SKIN) project uses the term ‘good’ rather than ‘best’ practice to draw attention to the subjective lens through which a practice is ultimately evaluated by an end-user. This paper first outlines the many issues that confront SFSC actors which represent bottlenecks to the adoption of ‘Good Practices’. It then documents the Good Practices collected as part of the SKIN project as tangible examples of how SFSCs overcome such challenges. Lessons learnt from project highlights are subsequently assessed in an effort to mitigate and offer solutions to the challenges associated with SFSCs. The paper demonstrates the considerable latent potential inherent to SFSCs. However, in order for the agricultural sector to realise the full promise of short supply chains it must first be conscious of the issues pertinent to their prosperity.
  • Teagasc submission made in response to the Discussion document for the preparation of a National Policy Statement on the Bioeconomy

    Henchion, Maeve; Devaney, Laura; Caslin, Barry; Fenton, Owen; Fenelon, Mark; Finn, Sean; Finnan, John; Ní Fhlatharta, Nuala; Gaffney, Michael; Hayes, Maria; et al. (Teagasc, 2017-09-19)
    This document is Teagasc’s response to the “Discussion Document for the Preparation of a National Policy Statement on the Bioeconomy” issued by the Department of the Taoiseach’s Economic Division in July 2017. It recognises the potential significance of the bioeconomy to Ireland, offers some policy and strategic insights from other countries, and identifies Teagasc’s role in supporting the development of the bioeconomy in Ireland.
  • If Opportunity Doesn’t Knock, Build a Door: Reflecting on a Bioeconomy Policy Agenda for Ireland

    Devaney, Laura; Henchion, Maeve; Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine; 14/SF/857 (The Economic and Social Review, 2017-06-30)
    The development of the bioeconomy offers an alternative economic mode of growth whereby renewable biological resources are transformed to meet food, feed, fuel and fibre needs. Ireland however lacks a cohesive bioeconomy policy to guide this development. Drawing on a strategic analysis of the resource base in Ireland, this paper sets the scene for the development of the Irish bioeconomy. A number of case study opportunities are outlined, followed by a critical analysis of Irish bioeconomy-related policy. The analysis culminates in a bioeconomy policy illustration that highlights the number of competing interests in the bioeconomy arena, alongside the wider governance context that will influence the development of a comprehensive national bioeconomy policy.
  • Social media and academic identity in food research

    Regan, Aine; Henchion, Maeve; European Union; H2020-ISIB-2014-1 (Emerald, 2020-02-01)
    Purpose With increasing emphasis on public engagement and scientific communication and dissemination, scientists are increasingly required to redefine their academic identity. Theoretical frameworks of academic identity and social media functionality were used to explore food researchers' attitudes towards social media. Design/methodology/approach An online study was carried out with 80 scientists working in publicly funded food research. Findings Commitment to scientific rigour, disseminating science to society, and being part of an academic community were important facets of academic identity and shaped participants' perceptions of social media functions. Functions offered by social media were most favourably viewed by the food research community for academic peer engagement and academic community building. Social implications Cultural and organisational changes are needed to mobilise food researchers to view public engagement as an important facet of academic identity. Originality/value The current study adds to the theoretical literature on academic identity and social media functionality by providing empirical evidence outlining how scientists working in publicly funded food research feel about engaging with social media within their professional role.
  • ‘Smart farming’ in Ireland: A risk perception study with key governance actors

    Regan, Aine; Teagasc; 0387 (Elsevier, 2019-02-14)
    As research and innovation around Smart Farming further advances, there is a need to consider the impact of these technologies including the socio-economic, behavioural and cultural issues that may arise from their adoption. The current study explores the perceived risks and benefits arising from the development of Smart Farming in Ireland and in particular focuses on the different interpretations ascribed to risk issues by different actors. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 21 actors who through their professional positions have some level of responsibility for the growth of Smart Farming in Ireland. Although the participants in the current study were largely in agreement about the benefits presented by Smart Farming for Irish agriculture and society, they held different interpretations and opinions when discussing identified risks. The main concerns related to consumer rejection of technologies, inequitable distribution of risks and benefits within the farming community, adverse socio-economic impacts of increased farmer-technology interactions, and ethical threats presented by the collection and sharing of farmers’ data. The current study reinforces how ambiguity can surround the discussion of risks as individuals form perceptions based on divergent value judgements. The findings reinforce the call for discourse-based management of risks and the embedding of frameworks such as Responsible Research and Innovation within Smart Farming.
  • Ethical, moral and social dimensions in farm production practices: a segmentation study to assess Irish consumers’ perceptions of meat quality

    Regan, Aine; Henchion, Maeve; McIntyre, Bridin (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2018-03-09)
    Growing consumer concerns with modern farming and food production systems indicate a significant market opportunity for meat production practices that consider ethical, moral and social value traits. In the current study, we aimed to identify and characterise distinct segments of Irish consumers based on their perceptions of the quality of meat from different farm-level production practices (organic farming, high animal welfare standards, free range farming, and “natural”, treatment-free feeding regimes). An online survey was carried out with 251 Irish meat consumers. Using cluster analysis, we identified three distinct segments: “Target consumers”, “Purist consumers” and “Disinterested consumers”. Chi-square analyses revealed differences between the segments based on gender, age and meat-purchasing motivations. The results provide insight into the opportunities that exist for exploring new viable market segments as well as for engaging Irish consumers and empowering them with information around the ethical, social and moral aspects of farm-level practices related to meat production.

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