Knowledge exchange

Are the organic consumers of the future just a bunch of hippies?

The answer is both yes and no. Today’s organic consumers still have a little bit of hippie left in them, and they appear to be compassionate and tolerant people who are keen to protect the environment. But for organic consumers, ecology is also a matter of self-indulgence, and personal gratification plays a significant part in their consumer choices.

Why do we buy organic products? Previously organic consumers were focused on protecting nature and the animals. And the choice of buying organic products was often a political statement. But this can no longer fully account for why consumers choose to buy organic products.

“The core values among contemporary organic consumers are much more broadly defined today,” explains researcher Trine Mørk from MAPP - Centre for Research on Customer Relations in the Food Sector at Aarhus University.

As part of the public sector consultancy the centre provides to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries of Denmark, MAPP has done a new study on the use of organic products in public kitchens, which also included a survey of the values expressed by organic consumers. According to the study, the choices of organic consumers are still influenced by a concern for nature and animal welfare, but consumers also tend to choose organic products because it represents self-indulgence and personal gratification.

“Organic products have become a luxury that you use to spoil yourself with,” explains Trine Mørk.

The government focuses on ecology

The Danish government has established an objective to make 60 percent of all meals prepared in public kitchens organic by the year 2020. Today public kitchens (kindergartens, hospitals, nursing homes and public sector workplaces) serve about half a million meals every day, and since the Danish consumers’ interest in ecology and sustainability is increasing, it seems only natural to try to increase the share of organic foods served in the public sector. MAPP has examined what the consumers think of this development.

The results show that Danish consumers are positive towards promoting organic products in the public kitchens.

“It is typically women, city dwellers, young people, people with generous incomes and people who are well-educated who are more inclined to support the idea of introducing more organic products into public kitchens,” concludes Trine Mørk.

Meet Trine Mørk

At the Festival of Research on April 25, 2014 she will explain more about the organic consumers of tomorrow.

In Auditorium U1 at 14:40.

See the progamme here (in Danish)