Determination of consumer perceptions, expectations and attitudes about quality and safety of organic and low input foods
Consumer expectation, attitudes and perception about organic foods have or are currently being studied. The EU-project OMIaRD project has produced the most comprehensive statistics so far on the scope and dimensions of the organic market in Europe and will shortly provide more detailed insights from focus group and laddering interviews with regular and occasional consumers. Data sets are or will be soon available from survey-based studies in several EU countries. However, it is currently difficult to compare consumer surveys from different EU-countries because a range of different questionnaires/survey approaches has been used.
The survey methods and questionnaires used previously focus on “quality and safety” characteristics known to be recognised by consumers of conventional foods (e.g. appearance, taste, packaging, microbiological safety and production or trade system associated quality benefits such as “free range”, “GM-free” and “fair trade”). Many of these characteristics are also important for organic consumers. For example surveys have confirmed that consumers buy organic food because they perceive it as ”healthier”, “tastier”, “GM-free”, “animal welfare focused”, and/or “protective of the environment and biodiversity”. Surveys have indicated that there are relative differences in the ranking of these characteristics between EU-countries.
However, a range of other quality characteristics/parameters, which are thought to influence the buying behaviour of consumers of “low input” and/or organic foods, have rarely been included in existing questionnaires. Parameters that were often insufficiently covered include proximity of production (imports, country of origin, regional food, locally produced), specific animal welfare standards (e.g. livestock standards prescribing different levels of access to the outside) and/or nutritional benefits associated with different levels of processing of foods (e.g. pasteurisation, homogenisation and/or filtration of milk; use or non-use of specific crop protection strategies). To address theses deficiencies we will to perform the following studies (sub-workpackages):
WP 1.1.1: Review and re-analysis of existing consumer studies/data to quantify and explain differences and similarities between EU countries with respect to consumers expectations and attitudes concerning the quality and safety of organic and “low input” foods.
WP 1.1.2 Identify important “quality and safety” characteristics recognised by consumers of organic and “low input” foods that are not currently addressed in consumer surveys.
WP 1.1.3 Design a “Consolidated European consumer questionnaire/survey system” to integrate and provide a common methodological framework (questionnaires/survey protocols) at the European level.
WP 1.1.4 Carry out “in depth” analyses of consumer expectations/attitudes in 8 EU model countries/markets representing different supply chain structures, levels of consumer participation and consumer awareness about organic and “low input” farming standards, practices and benefits using the consolidated European questionnaire/survey protocols developed under WPs 1.1.2 and 1.1.3).
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