Purpose – This paper aims to explore consumer preference for fresh vegetables labelled as organic in combination with health and environment related quality traits. The study decomposes organic farming into its main quality aspects and measures consumers' preference structure for organic, in general, and for specific organic quality traits in particular. Design/methodology/approach – By means of stated choice preference modelling, the following hypotheses are tested: consumers prefer health over environment related quality traits; the organic label plays a significant role in consumers' choice for organic products; organic farming is perceived as healthier and more environmentally friendly than conventional farming; purchase intention is mainly driven by health related quality traits; both health and environmental concerns influence purchase frequency, though to a different extent. The choice experiment was completed by 527 participants, with four repetitions per participant. Findings – The health‐related traits score better than environmental traits in shaping consumer preference for organic vegetables. Consumers prefer organic products over B‐branded products, but not over A‐branded products, which suggests that consumers classify organic products among other quality niche products. However, they attribute a better score to the health and environment related quality traits of organic products, indicating a difference in quality cues between organic products and quality products in general. Price becomes less important, whereas presence of an organic label becomes more important with increasing buying intensity of organic vegetables. Undesirable traits, such as pesticide residue levels trigger a stronger response than desirable traits, such as environmental or health benefits. Original value – The measurement of the role of health and environment quality traits in consumers' decision to buy organic or not is of relevance given the current debate on the factual differences between organic and conventional vegetables. Furthermore, the use of the stated choice preference to test the hypotheses is original and relevant.
British Food Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 26, 2009
Keywords: Consumers; Organic foods; Quality; Consumer behaviour; Buying behaviour
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