Vol.7 No.2 (2012)


David Pearson

How humans manage environmental sustainability will impact the wellbeing of future generations. Research has been considering the environmental impact of consumers' dietary preferences. This paper reports on the specific role of organic food in such choices. Results based on a survey of consumers (N=163) in Australia show that many want to have an environmentally responsible diet and believe that their purchases of organic food contribute to such a diet. When respondents were presented with 12 food attributes, 17% rated 'organic' as very or extremely important while 73% rated 'quality' as very or extremely important, and with the ten other attributes rating in between. Thirteen percent of respondents reported 'never' purchasing organic, while 2% responded 'always', 15% 'frequently', 36% 'sometimes', and 34% 'rarely'. Of nine strategies presented to respondents for achieving a sustainable diet 3% reported maximizing their purchases of organic food, 17% of respondents reported avoiding bottled water, and the other seven strategies rated in between. Fifty four percent of respondents indicated a readiness to increase their organic consumption. One strategy for growing sales of organic food is to encourage existing consumers of organics to purchase more of these products. This may require focusing on promoting its superior health credentials whilst offering it at comparatively convenient locations and competitive price/quality relationships. In addition this research suggests that there is scope to jointly promote the co-benefits of other environmentally friendly dietary behaviours, such as encouraging reductions in eating meat and junk food, as well as minimising the amount of food waste.

Keywords: organic food, sustainable consumption, consumer behaviour, market growth.


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Author Contact

Sustainability Development and Food Security Research Cluster,
University of Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.



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