Which types of knowledge about organic products are consumers interested in?

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Knowledge and trust are important concepts which help to explain consumers’ engagement with organics. It has often been stated that knowledge leads to trust. However, by digging deeper into the relationship between knowledge and trust in relation to organics, a recent Danish study found that trust to a certain extent seemed to replace knowledge and thereby offered consumers a choice between knowledge and trust in their relationship with organics. Indeed, they found that the majority of consumers trusted organics despite knowing little. They also found that a significant part of consumers seemed to have a reflexive and deliberate lack of knowledge in their engagement with organics. As a consequence, an increase in the supply of information is not likely to fundamentally change the configuration of knowledge and trust in the food system. The purpose of the present paper is to investigate which types of knowledge about organics that consumers would be interested in, with particular focus on information concerning differences between organic and non-organic products. A nationwide web-based consumer survey was combined with face-to-face interviews in terms of a focus group and four semi-structured individual interviews recruited among the survey participants.

Our preliminary analysis indicated that a lot of people were interested in learning more about the difference between organic and non-organic production. We found that additional information about animal welfare, health, and general differences between rules and characteristics of the different production systems were the most often stated areas – and also information on climatic and environmental impacts and traceability scored high. However, our results also indicated that at least 40 % of the respondents were not interested in increasing their knowledge – and that knowledge concerning the values of the producer/seller might be just as important for consumers as specific knowledge concerning the production methods. An important next step will be to identify how to target interested consumers with the type of information they are motivated to take in. Here, social media provide an opportunity but also a challenge.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFood futures : ethics, science and culture
EditorsI. Anna S. Olsson, Sofia M. Araújo, M. Fátima Vieira
Number of pages8
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
Publication date2016
ISBN (Print)978-90-8686-288-7
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-8686-834-6
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventEurSafe 2016: Food Futures: ethics, science and culture - University of Porto, Porto, Portugal
Duration: 28 Sep 20168 Oct 2016


ConferenceEurSafe 2016
LocationUniversity of Porto

ID: 166951209