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Citizen and consumer evaluation of organic food and farming in Norway

Abstract

In this paper, we examine citizen and consumer attitudes towards, and preferences for, private and public goods from organic agriculture in Norway. The study is based on a survey among 939 Norwegians. The results show that in the role as citizens, the respondents hold a moderate belief in the superiority of organic farming concerning the production of public goods, but they give relatively low priority to prompting organic farming compared to other agricultural policy goals. In the role as consumers (choice experiment), the respondents were willing to pay for several attributes of organic food. Only 6% of the respondents buy organic food as often as they can. The most important reasons for buying organic food are health and environmental concerns, while animal welfare has little importance. Lack of perceived superiority regarding health benefits, taste, safety and environment are important reasons for not consuming (more) organic food among those who rarely or never buy organic food.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    A professional survey company was utilized to collect the data. This company recruits from a sample of more than 60,000 Norwegians who are willing to participate in online surveys on various themes. Members of this sample group receive survey invitations via e-mail. Descriptive data about those who have completed a particular survey are continuously updated, and the final sample is ensured to be representative with respect to gender, age, and residence. People with a university education are, however, overrepresented. In Norway, 27.3% of the population has higher education (Statistics Norway 2010), while in our sample, 52.1% of the respondents have higher education. In all analyses, the survey data were weighted with respect to education level.

  2. 2.

    Preston and Colman (2000) found that a seven-point scale is among the best preferred (along with the 10 and 9 point scale).

  3. 3.

    ‘Billig’ is a quite neutral term for inexpensive food.

  4. 4.

    The 939 respondents were randomly divided into four approximately equal groups, where each group only dealt with one of the food items. Some did not respond, so the results in Table 5 refer to a varying number of respondents (213–248, total 914).

  5. 5.

    A full factorial design of the experiment would have levied participants with 24 (2*2*2*3) choices. That many choices would have left participants exhausted so the number of choices had to be reduced. Although it might give interpretation difficulties, we generated a fractional choice set using the SAS macro % MktEx (Kuhfeld 2009). Many types of restrictions in the design of the experiment will give the same (so called A- and D-) efficiency. We used the “realistic” restriction that the 3 most expensive attributes would never be used along with the lowest price and vice versa. In the web-based survey, the four choice sets were presented in randomized order, and an opt-out option was not included.

  6. 6.

    The mixed logit model (Hole 2007) is often applied in analysis of discrete choice as it accounts for heterogeneity in preferences which are unrelated to observed characteristics. An anonymous referee has made us aware that an alternative would be to use the generalized multinominal logit model (Fiebig et al. 2010) that additionally accounts for scale heterogeneity.

  7. 7.

    For those who buy organic food.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the Research Council of Norway for funding this research through the project “Socio-economic and environmental impacts of organic farming”, grant number 176800. We also thank the two reviewers as they helped to improve the manuscript substantially.

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Correspondence to Valborg Kvakkestad.

Appendix

Appendix

Table 8 Weighted summary statistics and description of response and explanatory variables in the OLS regressions
Table 9 Design of the experiment for eggs, carrots, milk and ketchup
Table 10 Attributes of the 4 products in the choice experiment
Table 11 Results using a mixed logit model (Stata 11) where price has a fixed coefficient

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Kvakkestad, V., Berglann, H., Refsgaard, K. et al. Citizen and consumer evaluation of organic food and farming in Norway. Org. Agr. 8, 87–103 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13165-017-0176-8

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Keywords

  • Organic
  • Preferences
  • Attitudes
  • Consumers
  • Citizens
  • Choice experiment