Consumer habits: Contradictory conduct
Consumer habits

Contradictory conduct

imago images / suedraumfoto, imago images / suedraumfoto
The most popular place to buy organic products is the supermarket. But here, too, consumers rarely reach for organic sausage.
The most popular place to buy organic products is the supermarket. But here, too, consumers rarely reach for organic sausage.

GERMANY, Nuremberg. 90% of consumers say they buy organic food. This self-assessment is in stark contrast to the real market shares.

On the occasion of the Nuremberg Biofach trade fair, two studies on the subject of organic food have been published, some of which provide contradictory results. In its annual industry report, the German Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft (BÖLW) presented how the sales of food from organic production are developing. The Ecobarometer from the German Federal Ministry of Agriculture (BMEL) summarises the results of a consumer survey in which purchasing behaviour was examined under the microscope.

Almost all of them occasionally buy organic

The survey shows that 91% of consumers buy organic food at least occasionally. 6% state that they only buy organic food, 43% frequently and 41% occasionally buy organic food, according to the respondents.

The survey shows that the desire for organic increases with age. Among 14 to 29 year olds, only 3% buy exclusively organic food, while among those over 60 the figure is nine percent. Across all age groups, the proportion of those who disdain organic is relatively stable at 10 to 11%. An exception is the group of 30 to 39-year-olds, where only four percent state that they "never" put organic food in their shopping basket.

Organic sweets are hardly in demand

The most popular product is eggs, with 34% of buyers stating that they only buy "organic". The lowest percentages are for sweets and alcoholic beverages, at two percent each. In all product categories, there is a large discrepancy between consumers' self-assessments and the actual shares of sales in food retailing (LEH).

For example, the market share of eggs from organic production is only 14.1%, even though more than a third of the respondents claim to buy only organic eggs. The discrepancy is similarly large for dairy products, where 18% buy only "organic", but the market shares of consumer milk (10.1%), yoghurt (7.4%) and dairy cream products (4.8%) are significantly lower. The situation is similar for potatoes (19 to 6.9%), bread (12 to 4.1%) and fruit and vegetables (17 to 7.5%). In the case of meat, meat products and sausage, one in ten wants to be a pure organic customer; however, the actual market share is only 2.6% for red meat and 1.6% for meat products and sausage.

Fair prices and regionality

When buying food, consumers are most concerned with the criteria of fair production and cultivation conditions, regionality and organic farming. In these categories, significantly more than two thirds of those surveyed said that the topics "very important" or "rather important" are important to them.

The consumer survey also revealed that organic products are mainly bought in supermarkets (88% of participants), discounters (72%), bakers (64%), weekly markets (61%) and butchers (59%). By contrast, specialised organic supermarkets (41%) and health food shops (29%) are less popular.

When buying organic food, the most important motive for consumers is the support of species-appropriate animal husbandry (95%). 93% want to promote regional farms, 92% cite a fair income for the producer as the reason for turning to organic products.

Food scandals play a less important role in the purchase decision with 62%. Many consumers want regionally produced organic food. 78% state that this aspect is "very important" or "rather important" to them. In the supermarket, around three quarters of consumers deliberately choose regional foods according to their own statements. Two thirds buy regional foods from the producer, for example in the farm shop or at the market.

The Ecobarometer is a representative telephone survey commissioned at regular intervals by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). The survey focuses particularly on the consumption of organic food among consumers. The market research institute Infas was commissioned to carry out the "Ecobarometer 2019". The survey was conducted from the end of July to the end of August 2019.




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