Organic Foods and Swedish Consumers

Background and methodology 
Research related to consumer preferences and demand for organic food is sparse. In the majority of studies, many consumers (33-61%) declare that they have a preference for and an interest in organically produced foods. Yet, the proportion of consumers who purchase organic foods regularly is low. The major motive for buying organic foods seems to be health-related. However, a major obstacle to the purchase of organic foods is the existing price difference. The aim of this study was to gain knowledge about Swedish consumer’s perceptions of organic foods. To that end, attitudes, purchase criteria, purchase frequency, perceived availability and beliefs about organic foods were studied in a representative sample of consumers.

The majority of respondents, particularly women and young respondents (18-25 years) reported positive attitudes, but purchase frequency was low. A total of 13% stated that they regularly bought organic milk. Corresponding figures for organic meat, potatoes and bread were 13, 16 and 8% respectively. The most important purchase criterion was good taste and the least important was “organically produced.” Organic foods were perceived to be more expensive and healthier than conventionally produced alternatives. A major obstacle to the purchase of organic foods was premium process. The study concluded that consumption of organic foods will not increase as long as important purchase criteria and perceived beliefs about organic foods do not match.

Magnusson, M. K., Arvola, A. & Hursti, U-K. K. (2001). Attitudes towards organic foods among Swedish consumers. British Food Journal 103(3):209-226.