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World economic crisis impact on organic products consumption: Costa Rica, 2009

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the impact of the economic crisis in organic consumption in order to better understand how to meet the emerging challenges that the crisis is creating for future consumption and production of organic products in Costa Rica, and to review the material available in the commercial and scientific literature. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A sample survey of 63 consumers was carried out based on an average population of 75 visitors every Saturday, the only day of the week that the market takes place. The analytical procedure was divided in two parts: the descriptive statistic's section base on histograms showing the distribution of the variable's responses; and the inferential statistic's analysis which used standardized forward elimination regression modeling to arrive at the final models to explain the importance of the selected variables in each equation, along with a thorough search of the available and the most recent material. Findings ‐ The profile of the organic consumer in 2009 was very similar to that of 2000, 2004 and 2007. The willingness to pay premiums went down from 25 per cent in 2007, to 15 per cent in 2009 and was associated primarily with irregular availability, limited supply, limited variety and the location of the market. Price was an integral part of all three derived models, something that was not the case in past surveys. Even though consumer's income is very high, the crisis was affecting the purchase of organic products. The hypotheses that the crisis had not affected consumption and willingness to pay were both rejected based on the results obtained. Research limitations/implications ‐ The crisis is still with us, most of the material available for comparison at this time comes from "commercial surveys", sources with basically no "hard" research with which to compare the results that were secured in this survey. Practical implications ‐ The findings can help developing countries in Latin America with similar conditions meet the challenges of the future, as the developing countries overcome the crisis in terms of better policies and strategies. Originality/value ‐ To the author's knowledge, this is the first paper of its kind in a developing country. It provides evidence of the impact of the economic crisis on organic consumption in a developing country and the author knows of no other in Latin America.

Keywords: Consumer behaviour, Developing countries; Consumption; Costa Rica; Economic depression, Crisis, Impact; Organic foods; Organic products

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 20, 2012


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