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Information provision, consumer perceptions and values


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Wier, Mette; Andersen, Laura Mørch and Millock, Katrin (2005) Information provision, consumer perceptions and values. In: Chapter 8 in Russell, C. and Krarup, S.: Environment, Information and Consumer Behaviour. New Horizons in Environmental Economics series,. Edward Elgar Publ, chapter 8.

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The consumption of organic foods has increased throughout Europe, and in Denmark in particular (Giraud, 2003; Hamm et al., 2002; Wier and Calverley, 2002). The Danish market for organic foods is relatively mature, meaning that it does not suffer seriously from the supply shortages and barriers that dominate most of the markets outside Denmark. A prerequisite for this development is the well known and trusted Danish organic label, guaranteeing that the organic production rules are observed.
While organic food was perceived mainly as an environmentally friendly good 10–15 years ago (Beckmann, 2001), today’s growth in consumption of organic foods may be due to the increasing focus on private-good attributes such as health, taste and quality and, in addition, increasing food-safety concern partly driven by the threat of food scares that emerged during the 1990s (see, for example, Richter et al., 2000; Beckmann, 2001; Briz and Al-Hajj, 2003).
However, previous public information provided to Danish consumers concentrates solely on environmental and animal welfare benefits. The Danish organic label defines rules on improved animal welfare and no use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), chemical fertilizers, additives and pesticides. The organic label has been supported by several public information campaigns on the positive consequences of maintaining organic production rules, exclusively emphasizing public-good attributes such as effects on animal welfare and the environment. However, no public information has been provided on private-good attributes such as organic goods being fresher, tastier or healthier. Moreover, there has been no noteworthy private information (marketing, newspaper articles, TV reports and so on.) promoting these positive private attributes – either during, or previous to, the observation period applied in the current study.1 Thus, if any crucial information has influenced consumer perceptions of organic foods, it has happened indirectly, for example as a result of various food scares that emerged during the 1990s.
In this chapter, we examine how well consumers understand the organic rules, and how the consequences of employing these rules are perceived. We shall test to what degree Danish consumers perceive organic goods as more environmentally or animal-welfare friendly, better tasting, fresher or healthier. Additionally, we shall identify which specific attributes induce consumers to purchase organic goods, distinguishing between private and public attributes. If organic goods are purchased mainly for private attribute reasons, there appears to be a gap between information provided about organic attributes and consumer perceptions of them.
The well-functioning Danish market makes it possible to collect and analyse reliable data on purchases. Our study is distinctive in that it is based on observations of stated and registered purchasing behaviour involving a large number of organic as well as conventional foods. Furthermore, the study applies information at the individual household level, which makes possible a detailed and informative approach.

EPrint Type:Book chapter
Subjects:"Organics" in general
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF II (2000-2005) > III.1 (COF) Consumer demand for organic foods
Deposited By: Rosenkvist, Lars
ID Code:4814
Deposited On:20 May 2005
Last Modified:10 Aug 2012 09:06
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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