Determinants of Organic Food Purchases: Evidence from Household Panel Data

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There is an ongoing trend towards the consumption of organic food in many industrialized countries. For food producers and marketers, it is interesting to know the determinants of organic food consumption. The great majority of previous research on this topic was based on consumer surveys or interviews with questions on past or future behaviour or attitudes towards organic food. However, there is a potential bias in these measures. The aim of the present study was therefore to determine the drivers of actual organic food purchases and compare them with the drivers of attitudes towards organic food. The analysis was based on household panel data from Germany provided by the company GfK documenting all food purchases of N = 9470 households during the entire year of 2008. The data on actual purchases of organic food were linked with survey data from the same households on attitudes towards different food characteristics. The analysis confirmed the phenomenon of an attitude-behaviour gap in the market for organic food. Nevertheless, the structural equation models provided evidence that attitudes towards organic food and organic food purchases were both driven by the same determinants; however, the relative importance of the determinants differed. In both models, ‘naturalness and healthiness’ and ‘environmental protection’ were the two most influential drivers. Other significant determinants with a positive influence were the preference for ‘local and domestic food’ and the desire for ‘high quality food and enjoyment of eating’; ‘price consciousness’ and ‘convenience orientation’ both had a significant negative effect. The paper concludes with implications for future survey research on organic food and recommendations for producers and marketers of organic food.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Pages (from-to)19-28
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Organic food
  • Attitude-behaviour gap
  • Panel data
  • SEM
  • Consumer behaviour

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