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Do consumers buy organic food for sustainability or selfish reasons?

  • Bergès, Fabian
  • Monier-Dilhan, Sylvette

The expansion of organic agriculture is a key issue in sustainable development. We study consumers’ motives for buying organic food products by analysing the combination of goods in baskets purchased by a panel of French households. Organic proneness can be motivated by concern for sustainable development and/or by self-interest (health or product quality considerations). The pro-social motivation of consumers of organic products is inferred from the presence of ‘Fair Trade’ products in their baskets, whereas consumer self-interest is deduced from the presence of healthy and higher quality labeled products. Our results on effective purchases indicate that buyers of organic products are primarily motivated by sustainability considerations, then by health and finally by expected quality improvement. However, certain household socio demographic characteristics impact on the ranking of self-interested motives. Higher education level, family size and organic loyalty have a positive impact on the quality-related motive for purchasing organic goods.

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Paper provided by Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) in its series TSE Working Papers with number 13-372.

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Date of creation: Jan 2013
Date of revision: Aug 2013
Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:26743
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Web page: http://www.tse-fr.eu/

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  1. Monier Sylvette & Hassan Daniel & Nichèle Véronique & Simioni Michel, 2009. "Organic Food Consumption Patterns," Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-25, December.
  2. Hassan, Daniel & Monier-Dilhan, Sylvette & Nichele, Veronique & Simioni, Michel, 2009. "Organic Food Consumption Patterns in France," 2009 Pre-Conference Workshop, August 16, 2009, Diet and Obesity: Role of Prices and Policies 53342, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  3. Wier, Mette & O'Doherty Jensen, Katherine & Andersen, Laura Mørch & Millock, Katrin, 2008. "The character of demand in mature organic food markets: Great Britain and Denmark compared," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 406-421, October.
  4. Gary D. Thompson & Julia Kidwell, 1998. "Explaining the Choice of Organic Produce: Cosmetic Defects, Prices, and Consumer Preferences," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(2), pages 277-287.
  5. Bellows Anne C. & Onyango Benjamin & Diamond Adam & Hallman William K, 2008. "Understanding Consumer Interest in Organics: Production Values vs. Purchasing Behavior," Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-31, May.
  6. Rachel Griffith & Lars Nesheim, 2010. "Estimating households' willingness to pay," CeMMAP working papers CWP24/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  7. Claire Garcia & Andrew Fearne & Lisa Wood, 2010. "The role of involvement in the attention paid by supermarket shoppers to organic products," Journal of Innovation Economics, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(1), pages 127-144.
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