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Abstract

In Australia, the retail value of organic food production was estimated at A$250 million, with farm gate value at around A$90 million, and exports at around A$40 million. The current share of organic sales in total food sales in Australia is about 1 per cent. The growth rate in organic production was forecast to continue at 10-30% per annum. Despite the positive outlook, there are concerns about consumer confusion over product recognition, organic certification, and misleading advertising. To understand how demand for organic products is changing, it is important to investigate consumer attitudes and knowledge about these issues. The objective of this study is to identify issues that may hinder or promote demand. Given the qualitative nature of these issues we use a focus group study to probe consumers. The results suggest that consumers are in general concerned about the use of chemicals, the treatment of farm animals and the environment impact of food production. Organic food consumers are more knowledgeable about organic foods as well as being more tolerant of higher prices and inaccessibility. The results also suggest that increasing consumers' awareness of organic farming and certification as well as the availability of organic foods may be the most effective ways of moving organic foods into mainstream.

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