Consumer Perception of Local and Organic Products: Substitution or Complementary Goods?

By Simona Naspetti and Antonella Bodini.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Many consumers are interested in local products because of the perceived benefits of freshness, stronger taste and higher quality. To consumers the origin attribute represents a strong purchasing criterion. With respect to organic produce, local food products may be perceived either as substitutes or as complementary. A qualitative approach to data collection (focus groups) and to data processing (content analysis) has been used to analyse Italian consumers’ perception with respect to local and organic food products. In the framework of the EU project QLIF (FP6-506358) a discussion guide to focus group interview was used in order to identify important purchase criteria, the willingness to pay, as well as the role of organic food products in purchasing criteria. Two animal – yogurt and eggs – and two non animal products – bread and tomatoes – were taken into account. Focus groups interviews indicate that Italian consumers place much importance on the local origin of food products, especially if fresh consumed. The origin with its implication of seasonality, territoriality and localness are among the major motivating and trust factors, however not always linked to organic food products. The lack of availability of local and organic food products together with retailing issues are taken into consideration. Differentiation throughout animal and non-animal products and between processed food products and commodities is analysed. Organic seems to suffer in global markets, localness may suggest a solution. The research provides insights on substitution and complementary marketing strategies.

Keywords: Local Products, Organic Food, Food Quality and Safety, Proximity, Focus Groups, Cultural Preferences

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.111-122. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 626.266KB).

Dr. Simona Naspetti

Senior Research Assistant, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy

She is a Ph. D. research assistant at the Polytechnic University of Marche. She has been involved with research in agro-food marketing at the regional and national level. She joined the University of Ancona in 1994 working on market initiatives concerning traditional & typical products, including the organic ones. She completed Ph.D in 2000 discussing a dissertation on Means-End Chain analysis of Italian organic consumers and has been lecturer in “agro-food marketing” at the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Ancona and of Industrial marketing at the Faculty of Engineering. She is currently carrying on EU-funded research on organic supply chain and on organic consumer behaviors an a regional project on quality perception and WTP. She wrote a book on the marketing of organic wine, co-authored with Prof. Zanoli and several publications on consumers analyses. She have been a teacher in Mathematics and Statistics at secondary school from 1987 to 1999.

Antonella Bodini

Research Assistant, Istituto Nazionale di Economia Agraria, Legnaro PD, Italy

She is research assistant at the National Institute of Agricultural Economics (INEA). She joined the INEA in 2007 working on agricultural accountancy network (FADN) and rural tourism. Presently, she is completing a Master of Science in Business Economics and Management at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (CIHEAM network) with a thesis on Success factors for agro-food e-commerce from an Information-technology and marketing perspective, supervised by Prof. Zanoli. She has been involved with research in agro-food marketing within EU-funded research projects at the Polytechnic University of Marche (Italy) in 2004. She has been research assistant at the Reasearch Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL, Switzerland) in 2005, carrying on EU-funded research on organic supply chain and on organic consumer behaviours.


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