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Exploring the gap between attitudes and behaviour: Understanding why consumers buy or do not buy organic food

Susanne Padel (Organic Research Group, Institute of Rural Sciences, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK)
Carolyn Foster (Countryside and Community Research Unit, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, UK)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 1 August 2005



The purpose of the paper is to explore the values that underlie consumers purchasing decisions of organic food.


The paper draws on data from focus groups and laddering interviews with a total of 181 regular and occasional consumers of organic food that were contrasted with survey results of other studies.


The results show that most consumers associate organic at first with vegetables and fruit and a healthy diet with organic products. Fruit and vegetables are also the first and in many cases only experience with buying organic product. The decision‐making process is complex and the importance of motives and barriers may vary between product categories.

Research limitations/implications

While further research would be required to facilitate full understanding of the consumer‐decision making process with regard to organic produce, this work indicates the complexity of the process and the likelihood of variation between different product categories. Future research should consider tradeoffs that consumers make between values and product as well as consumer segmentation.


Prior research concerning the consumer decision‐making process with regard to organically produced food is limited. Theses findings have implications for future sector‐based communications to consumers and, potentially, for product development and labelling.



Padel, S. and Foster, C. (2005), "Exploring the gap between attitudes and behaviour: Understanding why consumers buy or do not buy organic food", British Food Journal, Vol. 107 No. 8, pp. 606-625.



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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited