Innovations in the agro-food system: adoption of certified organic food and green food by Chinese consumers

McCarthy, Breda, Liu, Hong-Bo, and Chen, Tingzhen (2016) Innovations in the agro-food system: adoption of certified organic food and green food by Chinese consumers. British Food Journal, 118 (6). pp. 1334-1349.

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Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to identify the factors driving the adoption of ‘green innovations’ notably green food and certified organic food and to examine the attitudes of Chinese consumers towards genetically modified food. Design/methodology/approach: A mixed methods approach was used. A total of 402 consumers responded to a structured questionnaire and 58 consumers responded to a survey designed to gather qualitative data. Data analysis involved content analysis, the probit model, frequency distributions and the t test for two unrelated means. Findings: This study shows that affluent, middle class Chinese citizens are opting out of the conventional food market. There is a gender divide, with men showing a preference for green food and females showing a preference for certified organic food. Certified food purchase is associated with demographic variables, such as income, education, age, gender, presence of young children, household size, living in developed cities and overseas experience. A follow-up study shows that the absence of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) motivates the purchase of organic food. Overall, the results suggest that Chinese consumers are turning towards certified food for health reasons and are sceptical about GM food. Research limitations/implications: This paper provides some insights into how Chinese consumers view innovations in the food sector. The study found that almost half of the sample is unaware that the concept of green food is different to that of organic food. The priority for the certified organic industry is to address this lack of knowledge and clearly explain what certified organic food is and how it differs from green food. Small-scale farmers could use consumer aversion to GMOs as a promotional tool. The ultimate goal of this paper is to help marketers better promote certified organic food, but inferences can be drawn in terms of Chinese sustainable consumption. Negative attitudes towards genetically modified foods exist due to human health concerns. Hence, Chinese policy makers need to confront these perceptions, real or perceived, if they wish to maintain public trust in biotechnology. Practical implications: The study found that almost half of the sample is unaware that the concept of green food is different to that of organic food. The priority for the certified organic industry is to address this lack of knowledge and clearly explain what certified organic food is and how it differs from green food. Based on the qualitative data, stressing the GM-free status is likely to enhance sales since there appears to be a segment of consumers that distrusts GM technology. Originality/value: The contribution of this research lies in examining what drives the adoption of 'green innovations', notably green food and certified organic food in China. This research is important given that little is known about what Chinese consumers think of, and how they react to, innovations in the agro-food value chain.

Item ID: 43848
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1758-4108
Keywords: innovation, certified organic food, green food, genetically modified food, China, probit model
Funders: James Cook University (JCU)
Date Deposited: 09 May 2016 04:52
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1505 Marketing > 150599 Marketing not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970115 Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services @ 100%
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