Alice Mauchline

Alice Mauchline

I am a Senior Research Fellow in the School of
Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading.
My research focuses on sustainable agriculture and enhancing fieldwork learning.

Location University of Reading, UK


  • Hello and welcome to you all. It is great to have you all here from such a range of farming and non-farming backgrounds - I hope that you enjoy the course and the experience of learning together.

  • Hi, I'm interested in taking this course to improve my management skills and to learn about positive ways to build on individual differences. I look forward to learning with you all.

  • Managing people would be easier if...everyone involved was willing to be open and honest and were good at communicating...but all of this requires time to build strong relationships.

  • Hi Mary - thanks for your message. We are planning to run this course again in the Spring (2019) so please do re-register as it would be great to have you learn and contribute along with our new intake. To leave this run - you need to access ‘your learning’ (which is in the dropdown menu when you click on your profile pic). This will bring up a grid of all the...

  • Thank you all for your thoughts here on ways to over-come the attitude-behaviour gap. I agree with them all; providing consumers with a choice of products - even if they cost more, educating the next generation about sustainability, promoting and using sustainability logos and providing consumers with information about the production methods used.

  • Thanks for sharing these logos.

  • Thanks for your thoughts here. This was a difficult task! It isn't easy to prioritise and you're right to highlight that enhancements cost money which pushes up the price of the product.

  • Thanks @JohndeMontfort Animal nutrition is an important consideration here for various reasons - we consider this in the next step.

  • Alice Mauchline replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Hi @robinbanks. The beef produced in the UK comes from both the suckler herd and the dairy herd in roughly similar amounts. We used a range of different cow models in the video to represent a generic beef production system – however as the executive summary of this recent report from the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (Beef & Lamb) states –...

  • Alice Mauchline replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Thanks for sharing @robinbanks. Do you think this kind of market could be scaled up? Or do you think its value is in the fact that consumers can meet the producers face to face which could be lost on a larger scale?

  • Thank you all for contributing to this word cloud. It is very interesting to see your thoughts here. Please continue to add your words and we provide some definitions for 'sustainability' on the next step. We will then explore what sustainability means in the context of food production.

  • Absolutely @LucyRobinson. We all have very different sets of ethics and values which influence our levels of trust. You're right to highlight the difficulty consumers face in finding trust-worthy, factual information about the methods used to produce our food.

  • The photos on the Padlet wall are a really useful resource - they show the range of foods that we eat - and trust. They also demonstrate the different sources of information that we use in order to decide whether we trust the product. Thank you all for helping compile this catalogue.

  • Many thanks @LouisePurcell and @robinbanks The survey link was incorrect. This has now been changed and you should now be able to access the survey. Thanks once again for completing this survey (twice!).

  • Apologies @LouisePurcell @robinbanks - I'll investigate....

  • Thank you for this positive story.

  • Thank you @LouisePurcell for notifying us of this error. This link should be working. Please re-try clicking on the link on the page (don't copy and paste the url).

  • The results of this survey will be analysed by the research team in due course and will be published. Keep an eye out on the EIT Food website. In addition, we have built in several polls into this course so that you can instantly compare your answers relating to trust in our food with other participants. We hope you find these interesting.

  • Thanks Jo - interesting to hear! I hope you enjoy the rest of the course.

  • Thanks for sharing this news @JohndeMontfort It makes interesting reading

  • Thanks again @AnneTrant the correct reference is now uploaded.

  • You're right to question whether there is a single right thing to do - people will have all different priorities and have their own sets of values. We will explore this a bit more later in the week.

  • Thanks for sharing @JeannetteM. but I agree with your sentiment that these labels are a step in the right direction

  • Thanks for spotting this @AnneTrant we will get the correct reference list uploaded asap.

  • Absolutely @JeannetteM. consumers have a very important role in ensuring sustainable food production and consumption habits.

  • Thanks @BeatriceMaita and @JohndeMontfort for your thoughts. We will look at various definitions of sustainability later this week.

  • Hopefully the rest of the learning materials this week will provide some pointers of where consumers can look for this information.

  • Thanks for sharing this @LouisePurcell

  • The video describes a simplified version of the beef supply chain in the UK. A recent journal article by Brooks et. al (2017) gives a lot more detail and is available here:

  • Thanks - lots of interesting ideas here. Do you think the checks made by independent regulatory authorities are essential for consumer trust?

  • @BarbaraK-S thanks for this information

  • Thanks @AnthonyWilson Having a family member with a food allergy certainly means you need to place a lot of trust in others to provide accurate information about their products. Your experiences of large retailers vs small independent suppliers in terms of allergy labelling are very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Further information on allergen labelling in...

  • Thanks for sharing this @JeannetteM.

  • Thanks @DorothyThomas I've not heard of LOAF before - it is a useful set of principles to help guide your food choices.

  • Thanks for your comments here @EmmaColey and your thoughts on our responsibilities (as consumers) to help work towards a sustainable food system.

  • Thank you for these reflections @JillNicholson It is interesting to hear that your home grown veg is often more expensive to produce than buying it in the supermarket or farmer's market - but a price worth paying for food that you trust?

  • Thank you @StephenMorgan this is an interesting point - do you think retailers should provide this information elsewhere then? Or differently?

  • Thanks for sharing this @JeannetteM.

  • Thanks for your question @CatherineAllen Trust (or lack of trust) can influence consumers' attitudes and preferences but this doesn't always translate into changes in purchasing behaviour. As @SianDavies describes, there is often an attitude-behaviour gap as other factors such as price, quality and convenience are of greater importance when purchasing food -...

  • Thanks @MaryGair How do you think this missing information should be relayed to the consumer?

  • Thanks @JohndeMontfort You're right - as we have seen in these discussions, contact with the producer certainly increases trust in the product, but are there limitations to this approach?

  • @MyriamG Any further thoughts on how consumers could implement a change in food purchasing habits in order to prioritise less processed, local and seasonal foods?

  • Thanks for your thoughts @EmmaColey As a consumer, what do you feel could be done to improve your trust in the system in relation to the points you raise here?

  • Thanks all for sharing these resources.

  • Thanks @PersephoneBishop Do you have any examples of the activities you run with school children to educate them about the sustainability of their food?

  • How do you think this problem of loss of trust through the supply chain could be resolved?

  • Thanks @SianDavies We will explore the importance of sustainable and ethical food production to consumers in week 4.

  • Thanks for your comment @AméliaDelgado,AM There are new rules coming into effect in the EU from 2020 that requires the labelling of the origin of all primary ingredients in food.

  • This is a good point @SianDavies consumers do need to spend time looking into these stories to identify those that are genuine.

  • Hi @AuroraTurchetto and @JeffJ - it sounds as though the production process and origin of your food are important trust factors for you. What specific information do you feel should be displayed on the food in China? Are there any reliable food information sources in China that you can refer to?

  • Please do continue to interact in these comment sections to share your own experience and thoughts on these topics.

  • Hi @CatherineAllen. Thank you - your descriptions here are spot on. Do you have any suggestions on how manufacturers and retailers can improve transparency and therefore improve consumer trust in this part of the supply chain?

  • Alice Mauchline made a comment

    Thank you for sharing your interests in the food supply system - it is very interesting to read your varied reasons for joining the course.

  • Thanks Jeff, we don't cover these aspect here, but you do raise important points. Do you have other thoughts on how cooked food outlets could improve their information for consumers?

  • Thanks Mary, we will cover sustainable food production in week 4.

  • How interesting - the first three comments here all pick different groups of people in the food system (farmers/local retailers, independent food experts and indendent agencies) as 'most trusted' - but in all cases the importance of honesty is seen as key to trust.

  • Thanks Mary, you're right to highlight the issues of cost vs concern as well as questioning the impact that social media may have on our food choices. We will explore both these issues later in the course.

  • Thanks Catherine, you raise some interesting points here. Do you feel that the assurance schemes you mentioned provide better consumer protection than the food quality and safety regulations or do you see them as complementary systems?

  • Thanks Patricia. As you describe here, there are many, sometimes conflicting, factors that influence our trust in our food. Have you asked your local retailer about the source and production methods of their fruit and vegetables?

  • Thanks Lorenzo for describing the importance to you of knowing the people and the industry behind your food product. What sources of information do you use when buying other foods?

  • Hi Falk, Would you have liked to have known more about the producer? Do you think discount brands should provide more transparency?

  • Hi Catherine, this is an important point - retailers and brand owners want to protect their reputation therefore maintaining consumer trust is vital. They must adhere to food safety regulations by law and any breaches would impact their reputation. Do others also trust supermarkets/retailers to follow food safety regulations?

  • You raise an interesting point here Leandra - the EU organic label doesn't have any requirement on packaging - but it is an important consumer concern. You might be interested to read what the Soil Association in the UK is doing to address this issue.

  • Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. There are lots of interesting points already raised here. It seems that many of you value locally produced food and have trust in the product from knowing the producer. For those food products bought in supermarkets (where you don’t know the producer) various information sources on the food packaging become more...