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Consumer attitudes towards sustainability aspects of food production: Insights from three continents

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This study aims to analyse citizens' sustainability attitudes towards food production in the EU, Brazil, and China (n = 2885), using pork as an exemplary production system. The objective is to map citizens' attitudes towards sustainable characteristics of pig production systems, and investigate whether these attitudes coincide with people's general attitudes towards sustainability, on one hand, and their consumption of specific pork products, on the other. A conjoint experiment was designed to evaluate citizens' preferences towards pig production systems with varying sustainability levels. Conjoint analysis results were then used for a subsequent cluster analysis in order to identify international citizen clusters across the three continents. Respondents' sociodemographic profile, attitudes towards sustainability issues, and consumption frequency of various pork products are used to profile resulting segments. Results for the three continents point out that general sustainability attitudes relate to citizens' attitudes towards pig farming only for specific small-sized social groups. However, what the large majority of respondents think in their role as citizens related to pig production did not appear to influence their pork consumption choices significantly. The main implication of this finding is that while critical attitudes only weakly influence purchasing behaviour, they may, however, still be expressed in the public debate and influence policy formation at national and global levels. This study therefore provides valuable insights to policymakers and practitioners for improvements in an integrated management of food chains to meet consumer sustainability-related expectations better.

Keywords: citizens; clusters; conjoint analysis; consumers; food; sustainability

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Aarhus University, Denmark 2: Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil 3: Ghent University, Belgium

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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