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Communication of ethical activities going beyond organic standards in European organic enterprises

Gössinger, Katharina and Freyer, Bernhard (2009) Communication of ethical activities going beyond organic standards in European organic enterprises. In: Millar, Kate; Hobson West, Pru and Nerlich, Brigitte (Eds.) Ethical futures: Bioscience and food horizons. Wageningen Academic Publishers, Wageningen, pp. 400-405.

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In times of rapid growth of the organic market and differentiation processes within the sector, efforts are made on different levels to (re)define and strengthen organic values. The normative part of this process is the reformulation of IFOAM-principles, which form the basis for ethical commitment within the organic movement, without being fully integrated into organic regulations. This article addresses the question of which ethical activities are practised on organic farms and by organic companies that go beyond the organic regulations (referred to as "organicPlus" in this study), with what arguments these activities are communicated to consumers and how they are related to the dimensions of sustainability. The survey encompasses 100 small and medium-sized enterprises in five European countries (Austria, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Switzerland) that deal with organic products. In the paper various "organicPlus" approaches are analysed with a particular focus on communication arguments. Innovative communication strategies are seen as a valuable tool for the strategic positioning of organic companies. The mapping of companies resulted in a total of 72 different generic communication arguments relating to "organicPlus" activities. The paper offers a categorisation of these communication arguments on the basis of the economic, ecological/environmental and the social pillar of sustainability extended by a cultural dimension. Furthermore, the relations between the companies' "organicPlus" approaches, business size, company type and product category are analysed. Finally, the paper reflects on status quo and the potential of integrating "organicPlus" approaches into organic enterprises and their communication to consumers.

EPrint Type:Book chapter
Keywords:Communication strategies, differentiation process, marketing, values
Subjects:"Organics" in general
Farming Systems > Social aspects
Values, standards and certification
Research affiliation: European Union > CORE Organic > FCP
Austria > Univ. BOKU Wien > Sustainable Agr. Systems - IfÖL
Deposited By: Gössinger, Mag. Katharina
ID Code:18734
Deposited On:02 May 2011 10:45
Last Modified:04 May 2011 08:04
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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