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The demand for organic foods in the South of Italy: A discrete choice model

Gracia, Azucena, Magisris, Tiziana de
Food policy 2008 v.33 no.5 pp. 386-396
organic foods, consumer demand, food choices, food consumption, agricultural policy, economic theory, foods, econometric models, consumer behavior, questionnaires, environmental impact, food prices, nutrition knowledge, Italy
This paper analyses organic food consumer's demand that can help advising on implementing organic food policies at European level or, for a particular European country. In particular, it investigates the main factors explaining organic food demand in the South of Italy. Following the Lancaster consumer's demand theory we assume that consumer's utility depends on product characteristics instead of the product itself. Thus, consumers will choose the product (organic versus conventional) that possesses the combination of attributes that maximises its utility. Consumer's choice for organic foods is analysed within the random utility discrete choice model and a bivariate probit model has been specified. The data were collected through a questionnaire conducted in the Italian region of Campania (Naples) in 2003. Findings indicate that economic factors are still factors limiting the growth of organic demand in Europe. Moreover, the consumers' perceived benefits of organic food (environmental and health) are factors promoting organic food demand. In addition, greater information on organic food products is crucial to expand its demand in the South of Italy because this information will increase the consumer's organic knowledge. Then, higher organic knowledge will increase the probability to buy organic foods and, to a larger extent, the level of consumption among existing consumers.