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Life course, diet-related identity and consumer choice of organic food in Taiwan

Shih-Jui Tung (Graduate Institute of Bio-industry Management, National Chung-Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan)
Jenner C. Tsay (Department of Early Childhood Development and Education, Chaoyang University of Technology, Taichung, Taiwan)
Meng-Chu Lin (Graduate Institute of Bio-industry Management, National Chung-Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 2 February 2015




The purpose of this paper is to establish an understanding of choices of organic food in relation to life course by taking into account of age and two indicators of diet-related identity, vegetarianism and healthful attribute preference for agricultural produce. The stated variables tend to reveal how consumer attitudes and consumption of organic produces relate to life course factors across diet-related identities and age groups.


This study takes adult consumers of Taichung City in Central Taiwan as the target population. A survey data by personal interviews collected through systematic sampling of four supermarkets and one farmer’s market was employed to obtain a sample of 322 adult consumers in February, 2010.


This study finds that the level of individual vegetarianism is significantly correlated with organic food attitude. Individuals who live with young children and possess healthful preference for agricultural produce demonstrate more positive attitudes toward organic food. In addition, being in poor health or taking care of acutely or chronically ill family members, living with a spouse, in favor of vegetarianism, and approval of healthful attributes in choosing agricultural produce all contribute to an individual’s intake of organic food. Along with age, living with young children is found to have joint effects in influencing an individual’s choice of organic food.

Research limitations/implications

Since the stages of life is interwoven with various factors such as age, marriage, child-raising and other life events and spans a long period of time, the authors suggest that a longitudinal study may be carried out in future studies to reveal more detailed and valid information. The formation of life course indicators should be more specified to include all possible stages or conditions. Mixture of qualitative analysis with quantitative analysis, will be a better approach to obtain more detailed and meaningful information. Future studies should apply more complicated designs to obtain further theoretical implications.

Practical implications

First, taking the family rather than individuals as the marketing unit is a more effective strategy for organic food marketers, producers and policy makers. Second, more educational activities or training events in food preparation that simultaneously target both parents and children at the same time should be held. Third, extension agencies of organic agriculture and organizations affiliated with vegetarianism should seek to establish more bilateral educational or commercial cooperation in order to strengthen the development of organic agriculture.


Previous studies have rarely explored the issue of organic food choice and life course and its possible moderating effects with diet-related identity. In this survey of Taiwanese consumers, there are sufficient evidences to confirm the connection between life course factors and the consumption of organic produces, either by the figures of main effects or interaction effects.



Tung, S.-J., Tsay, J.C. and Lin, M.-C. (2015), "Life course, diet-related identity and consumer choice of organic food in Taiwan", British Food Journal, Vol. 117 No. 2, pp. 688-704.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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