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Deliverable 1.3.(b): Conference paper: German consumers’ evaluation of imported organic food products – the importance of geographical distance

Pedersen, Susanne; Aschemann-Witzel, Jessica and Thøgersen, John (2017) Deliverable 1.3.(b): Conference paper: German consumers’ evaluation of imported organic food products – the importance of geographical distance. Paper at: IAREP (International Association of Research in Economic Psychology), Tel Aviv, Israel, September 3.-6. 2017. [Unpublished]

[thumbnail of Abstract, IAREP 2017.pdf]
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In Germany, as in several other European countries, the demand for organic food is growing substantially faster than domestic production and supply, which has led to high import shares of many organic foods. Consequently, domestic consumers are presented with a wide variety of organic products from foreign country-of-origins (COOs).
Although there are many studies of consumer preferences for COO on the one hand and organic food on the other, research on COO effects in the context of organic food is scarce. More specifically, there is a lack of research on how consumers evaluate imported organic food products.
To explore regional differences in German consumers’ preferences for imported organic foods, 6 focus groups and 255 in-store interviews were conducted in Hamburg (north, close to Denmark), Munich (south, close to Austria) and Münster (west, close to The Netherlands). The multi-method study design included both between and within-method data triangulation. The aim was to enhance the validity of the findings and reduce inherent method bias.
German organic consumers were found to be a highly involved target group demonstrating an intrinsic motivation to acquire relevant knowledge in order to elaborate on differentiated product alternatives. This leads to an increased importance of a product’s origin and ultimately translates to a higher attention to the COO cue in the purchase situation. Overall, a strong preference for imported organic food products with specific, geographical close COOs were found among organic consumers in three different German regions. Figure 1 shows that Austria was the most preferred foreign COO in Munich; it also ranked amongst the top five origins in Hamburg, whilst it was only mentioned few times in Münster. In Münster, respondents clearly favoured products from the Netherlands. Also in Hamburg most respondents indicated prefer Dutch products, closely followed by French and Danish ones. Apart from Hamburg, Denmark was very seldom or not at all mentioned as alternative COO. Hence, at least for Munich and Münster, the geographically close COO was preferred (Austria and The Netherlands, respectively), while the preferences for Danish products were comparatively more pronounced in Hamburg than in the other two cities.
The findings further suggest that preferences for foreign COOs were strongly influenced by concerns about the negative effects of transport. The prevalence of these considerations can be attributed to a high environmental concern amongst organic consumers. These findings are in line with past research arguing that consumers buy organic food at least partly for ethical reasons, as reflected in such pro-environmental behaviour.
This study’s findings expand the scarce research on COO effects in the context of imported organic food. In particular, this study offers exporting countries, domestic retailers and policy makers insights into how imported organic products are perceived, possibly revealing growth opportunities for both demand and supply side.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Agrovoc keywords:
Subjects: Values, standards and certification > Consumer issues
Environmental aspects
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > Germany
Research affiliation: Denmark > AU - Aarhus University
Denmark > Organic RDD 2.2 > SOMDwIT
Deposited By: Pedersen, Dr. Susanne
ID Code:32137
Deposited On:03 Oct 2017 12:30
Last Modified:22 Mar 2022 11:46
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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