Is there a Promising Market ‘in between’ Organic and Conventional Food? Analysis of Consumer Preferences

Meike Janssen, Astrid Heid, Ulrich Hamm

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Various products incorporating single aspects of organic production systems such as lower inputs of pesticides, food additives or concentrated animal feed are found on the food market (referred to as low-input products hereafter). In our study, we analyzed how consumers react to low-input products in a purchase simulation with certified organic, conventional and low-input products. In the purchase simulations, each participant was asked to make three consecutive purchase decisions, one each for milk, yogurt and apples. The results of a cluster analysis revealed one cluster with a high preference for organic products and three clusters that featured considerable shares of low-input purchases. The latter clusters, however, were not characterized by a clear preference for low-input products. Rather, they bought mixed baskets of goods, i.e., low-input products in combination with either organic or conventional products. The low-input products in the categories milk, yogurt and apples did thus not necessarily attract the same groups of people. Interestingly, we found that most consumers who chose low-input products in the simulations usually buy those particular products in conventional quality. We conclude that in our study, we found a heterogeneous group of low-input buyers. For the organic sector, communicating the various aspects of organic production might be a promising strategy for gaining new customers. The low-input products in the purchase simulation only featured one special attribute, whereas organic products incorporate several.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRenewable Agriculture and Food Systems
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)205-213
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Buying simulation
  • Consumer preferences
  • Organic food
  • Low-input food

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