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Dietary priorities and consumers’ views of the healthiness of organic food: purity or flexibility?


Previous studies have shown that belief in the healthiness of organic food is a strong motive for buying organic. Typically, a positive relation between a nutritionally balanced diet (with respect to fruit, vegetables and meat) and organic consumption is also found. As market shares of organic food are much smaller than those of conventional food, consumers may face a trade-off between buying organic and choosing the nutritional composition they prefer. Using data from a survey of around 1300 Danish consumers, we found that almost all respondents believed that organic food contains fewer unwanted substances than non-organic food, and that around a third considered organic food to be nutritionally superior. Respondents with high organic consumption and who believe in the nutritious superiority of organic food products were more likely to belong to a small group of respondents who prioritized buying organic. However, the vast majority, particularly those with low levels of organic consumption, prioritized dietary flexibility over organic produce. Our findings suggest that to motivate those in this large consumer segment to increase their organic consumption, it will be necessary to offer a broader, more nutritionally differentiated, range of organic products.

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The research reported in this paper has been conducted as part of the OrgHealth project under the Organic RDD2.2 research programme (Project number: 34009–15-1002), funded by the Danish Green Development and Demonstration Programme (GUDP). The funders had no role in the design of the study, in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data, in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to publish the results.

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Correspondence to Sigrid Denver.

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All authors collaborate from time to time with employees from the organic food industry in various projects with no links to the project here reported. All authors declare no other conflicts of interest.

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Denver, S., Christensen, T., Nordström, J. et al. Dietary priorities and consumers’ views of the healthiness of organic food: purity or flexibility?. Org. Agr. 12, 163–175 (2022).

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