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Identifying significant characteristics of organic milk consumers: a CART analysis of an artefactual field experiment


  • Zhuo Liu
  • Christopher A. Kanter
  • Kent D. Messer
  • Harry M. Kaiser


The organic dairy category is one of the fastest growing categories of organic foods in the US. Organic milk consumers generally cite perceived health benefits and lower risk of food contamination, as well as perceived superior quality and environmental sustainability of organic farming methods, as the major motivations for preference of organic over conventional milk. While the attributes of organic milk that are valued by consumers are fairly well-known, more ambiguity exists regarding the demographic characteristics of the typical organic milk consumer. This research makes use of experimental data from 148 adult participants and use a Classification and Regression Tree (CART) analysis, a nonparametric modelling approach, to identify how Willingness-to-Pay (WTP) for organic milk varies with the demographic profile of experiment participants. The study finds that perceived taste of organic milk, concern for the risk of consuming conventional milk, being a primary shopper, and the quantity of milk consumed are the major factors that separate experiment participants into groups with high and low WTP for organic milk.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhuo Liu & Christopher A. Kanter & Kent D. Messer & Harry M. Kaiser, 2013. "Identifying significant characteristics of organic milk consumers: a CART analysis of an artefactual field experiment," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(21), pages 3110-3121, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:45:y:2013:i:21:p:3110-3121
    DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2012.699189

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Irwin, Julie R, et al, 1998. "Payoff Dominance vs. Cognitive Transparency in Decision Making," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(2), pages 272-285, April.
    2. Charles Noussair & St√ąphane Robin & Bernard Ruffieux, 2004. "Do Consumers Really Refuse To Buy Genetically Modified Food?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(492), pages 102-120, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Li, Xianghong & Peterson, Hikaru Hanawa & Xia, Tian, 2012. "U.S. Consumer Demand for Organic Fluid Milk by Fat Content," Journal of Food Distribution Research, Food Distribution Research Society, vol. 43(1), March.

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