Investigating consumer attitudes toward food produced via three production systems: Conventional, sustainable and organic

Thomas T., GÜNDEN C.

JOURNAL OF FOOD AGRICULTURE & ENVIRONMENT, vol.10, no.2, pp.55-58, 2012 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 10 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Page Numbers: pp.55-58


This study seeks to assess consumer attitudes toward the following food production systems, conventional, sustainable and organic, along five criteria: environmental concerns, food safety, food quality, wellness and community development concerns. Data were collected from a random sample of 252 respondents in three states of the U.S.: Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. This study employed an Analytic Hierarchy Process to derive a measure of an individual consumer's preference for production systems in term of the selected criteria. The results indicate that consumers consider food safety and wellness to be more important attributes of a food production system. Moreover, consumers prefer an organic production system over sustainable and conventional systems. Three distinct segmentations of consumers, obtained by using cluster analysis, were labeled as "young professional," "older-technicians" and "oldest-unemployed." The findings show that there were no statistically significant differences between the consumer segments for food production systems, but with respect to criteria, young professionals placed a higher priority on community development concerns than older-technician and oldest-unemployed. Multidimensional scaling was used to obtain the perceptual map or consumers for the production systems associated with the criteria. Consumers view organic production systems as quite dissimilar to the other production systems. The knowledge generated by the study indicates that consumers are unaware of the resources conservation, community development, and environmental benefits of organic food production. This indicates that there is an educational opportunity for extension and other public entities to educate consumers on the broader systemic socioeconomic and conservation benefits of organic food production.