Misperceived climate friendliness of organic food and consumer willingness to pay for actual greenhouse gas emission reduction

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Organic farming practices are generally associated with lower environmental impacts than conventional farming but this does not generally hold true in a climate context. A recent meta-analysis shows that organic milk production often has higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per kilo milk produced compared to conventional systems. Organic beef production has, on the other hand, lower GHG emissions per kg compared to conventional whereas GHG emissions from organic pork production are higher. Yet, a recent survey among Danish consumers demonstrated that a great majority of the respondents perceived organic food production to be more climate friendly than conventional food production. In the present investigation it’s assumed that consumers also have access to foods from production systems with a documented climate action plan to reduce GHG emissions. We test the hypothesis that misperceptions about the climate friendliness of organic production negatively affect consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for food products with documented GHG emission reductions. Secondly, we aim to identify segments of consumers that are meaningful in terms of predicting which types of consumers are likely to be interested in climate change programs. A web survey with 390 respondents was conducted in Denmark in September 2013. The data comprise attitudinal questions and a choice experiment where consumer preferences for different varieties of beef were elicited. The beef varied with respect to price, whether it was organic, and whether it was produced at farms with contracts to reduce emissions of GHG. On average, consumers who perceived organic farming to be more climate friendly than conventional farming also had a higher WTP for beef from farms with documented reduced GHG emissions. Thus, the survey did not confirm the hypothesis that misperceived assumptions about the climate friendliness of organic farming might reduce consumers’ WTP for documented initiatives to reduce GHG emissions. A latent class analysis indicates that it is important to take a more detailed look at consumers since there is a lot of heterogeneity in consumers’ preferences. Hence, if reduced GHG emissions are to be pursued by increased consumption of climate friendlier food then marketing efforts and information strategies need to be targeted specifically to different segments of the population.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKnow your food : food ethics and innovation
EditorsDiana Elena Dumitras, Ionel Mugurel Jitea, Stef Aerts
Number of pages6
Place of PublicationWageningen
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
Publication date2015
ISBN (Print)978-90-8686-264-1
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-8686-813-1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event12th Congress of the European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics: Know your food! – Food Ethics and Innovation - Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Duration: 28 May 201530 May 2015
Conference number: 12


Conference12th Congress of the European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics

ID: 141294128