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Quality of organic foods—a model for comparative analysis

Vasileva, E., Ivanova, D., Tipova, N., Stefanov, S.
Organic agriculture 2019 v.9 no.1 pp. 1-12
biodiversity conservation, cheeses, environmental protection, food quality, herbs, markets, models, organic foods, organic production, politics, species diversity, yogurt, Bulgaria
The quality and safety of organic products has been the subject of lively debate in the scientific community in recent years. The growing demand for organic food is based primarily on consumers’ concerns about the quality and safety and the perception that organic foods are healthier and safer than conventional foods. This paper identifies and makes analyses of comparative research studies on the quality of organic and conventional foods conducted over the last 15 years. Based on the food quality science fundamentals, a conceptual model for comparative testing of product quality is proposed. The model examines the dynamic relationship between its three basic components: “Designed Quality,” “Perceived Quality,” and “Achieved Quality.” The proposed model was used to conduct a comparative analysis of the quality of organic and conventional foods (herbs, yogurt, and cheese)—produced in Bulgaria as a country with emerging market of organic foods. The results of this comparison show that the differences between organic and conventional foods in terms of their quality characteristics are contained in their natural variations due to the nature of the tested products such as their species diversity and geographic area. Results also show that differences exist between pairs of products with respect to “non-measurable” credence characteristics such as environmental protection, biodiversity conservation and GMO-free, and authenticity. In conclusion, the proposed model allows the comparison between organic and conventional products quality to be considered in a broader context including social, environmental, and political dimensions.