Consumers’ view on sustainable, organic food systems

Globally there is an increasing focus on developing more sustainable food systems. The organic sector plays an important role in this development - as it delivers societal goods that contribute to the protection of environment, biodiversity and animal welfare, among others. At the same time, the organic food production, like the conventional, is often challenged by the climate impact – and by the possible negative effects that climate friendly solutions may have on other dimensions of sustainability as animal welfare. Another challenge for the organic sector might be that naturalness is often prioritised by the organic consumers in their choice of food, which could induce a dislike towards the use of technological solutions to produce climate friendly food.

To position organics as a central tool in the development of a sustainable food production, it is necessary to know more about the consumers’ view on the connection between organic production and sustainability, as well as how consumers balance different dimensions of sustainability.

The Purpose of SO-FOOD

In SO-FOOD, the interactions between organic consumption and the consumers’ view on sustainability as well as opinions on climate friendly technology are analysed.

The expected output of the project is

  • Knowledge of the interaction between consumption of organic products and climate impact of consumption
  • Knowledge of the consumers’ opinions on the use of technology for production of climate friendly organic products
  • Knowledge of the interaction between perceptions of the term sustainability and consumption of organic goods
  • Knowledge of how organic foods can be developed in a sustainable direction to match the consumers’ perceptions of sustainability

The Project Step by Step

The project is based on four key analyses:

  1. Do organic consumers have a more climate friendly food consumption than non-organic consumers?
  2. Do consumers perceive technologically driven sustainability as being more/less acceptable if the food is organic?
  3. Do organic consumers have a more holistic view on sustainability than non-organic consumers?
  4. Do organic and non-organic consumers prioritise different dimensions of sustainability – and do potential differences between the consumers’ priorities depend on whether the goods are organic?

The questions are to be answered using self-reported purchase data on household level, supplemented with six focus group interviews and two consumer surveys.

Project leader

Tove Christensen, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen
Phone: +45 35 33 10 69