Consumers' purchase of organic food products. A matter of convenience and reflexive practices

  • Hjelmar U
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Abstract

The aim of this study was to gain insight into the purchase of organic food products by consumers and to explore the main factors driving this process. This paper uses evidence from 16 in-depth interviews with consumers in Denmark carried out in 2008-2009. On the basis of the analysis two broad concepts are suggested: convenience behaviours and reflexive practices. Convenience behaviours are characteristic of pragmatic organic consumers. This type of shopping behaviour requires organic foods to be available in the local supermarket, they have to be clearly visible (preferably with an eco-label), and the price differential vis-à-vis conventional products have to be minimal. The analysis also showed that politically/ethically minded consumers have reflexive practices when purchasing organic food products: health considerations, ethical considerations (animal welfare), political considerations (environmentalism) and quality considerations (taste) play an important part for these consumers. Reflexive shopping practices can be sparked by life events (e.g. having children), " shocking" news about conventional food products and similar events, and news capable of creating a " cognitive dissonance" among consumers. The Danish case illustrates that the government needs to actively implement reforms and promote activities which make organic products a convenient choice for the pragmatic oriented consumer if their market share is to increase substantially. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Consumer
  • Convenience
  • Denmark
  • Food choice
  • Organic food
  • Reflexive practice

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Authors

  • Ulf Hjelmar

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