Explaining Organic Purchase Reasoning: Interest in Local Production and Concerns about the Environment and Biotechnology

By Gwendolyn Hustvedt and John. C. Bernard.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Interest in the benefits of sustainable agriculture among U.S. consumers has given rise to the well-developed market for organic food and fiber products. However, the sustainability movement continues to develop in reach and complexity, with social and economic concerns joining environmental concerns as impetus for consumer decisions. A survey of 69 participants in an auction of organic apparel products found that while about half of the participants (31) had high levels of concern about the environmental impact of apparel production, there were far fewer participants who felt strongly about genetic modification or buying locally produced products (localism). The frequency of group membership suggests that while it is common to feel strongly about the environment or the environment and another issue, it is much less common to feel strongly about buying local and/or genetic modification but not feel strongly about the environment. This suggests that attitudes towards genetic modification or localism may not overlap with each other but do overlap with attitudes towards the environment. The results highlight the complexity of consumer motivations for making organic purchases and remind producers that despite unifying labeling, organic products remain a bundle of attributes with different values depending on the orientation of the consumer.

Keywords: Sustainable Agriculture, Local Production, Organic, Biotechnology, Apparel Consumers

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.71-80. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 706.521KB).

Dr. Gwendolyn Hustvedt

Assistant Professor, Department of Family & Consumer Sciences, Fashion Merchandising Program, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX, USA

Gwendolyn Hustvedt (Ph.D. 2006 Kansas State University) is an Assistant Professor of Textiles and Fashion Merchandising in the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences at Texas State University-San Marcos. Dr. Hustvedt has received USDA funding to study marketing of locally and sustainably produced natural fibers. Her area of research interest focuses on product development for the lifestyle of health and sustainability consumer as well as education for sustainable development. Most recently, her research on animal welfare motivated consumers of wool and labeling for social responsibility by apparel brands has been published by the International Journal of Consumer Studies.

Dr. John. C. Bernard

Associate Professor, Departments of Food and Resource Economics and Economics, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA

John C. Bernard (Ph.D. 1999 Cornell University) is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Food and Resource Economics and Economics, and the Co-Director of the Laboratory for Experimental Economics at the University of Delaware.  His research interests include examining consumer willingness to pay for various food and fiber attributes such as organic, locally produced, and non-genetically modified.  Recently his work on consumer interest in organic milk has appeared in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.

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