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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1132: XVIII International Symposium on Horticultural Economics and Management

Determination of part-worth-utilities of food-labels using the choice-based-conjoint-analysis using the example of tomatoes in Germany

Author:   S. Meyerding
Keywords:   consumer marketing, sustainability, social desirability, purchasing behavior, carbon footprint label, regional local production
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1132.3
Megatrends for horticultural products, especially for fruits and vegetables, are convenience, functional-food and nature-food. Nature-food includes aspects such as food-safety, consumption with quiet conscience (sustainability) and organic products. In many studies, consumer preferences are determined using direct surveys. For this method social desirability is problematic. It leads to the effect that participants answer in a way which they perceive as desired by society. This causes, that the stated importance of certain features in these studies are not reflected in real purchasing decisions. The aim of the present study is to quantify the part-worth-utilities of product characteristics such as origin, price and food-labels and to support the assumption of social desirability. The real purchasing situation was simulated in a quasi-experiment using a choice-based-conjoint-analysis. The part-worth-utilities are then compared with the results of a conventional preference assessment (Likert-scale). For this purpose 645 consumers from all over Germany were surveyed in 2014. The participants were on average 44 years old and 68.8% were women. The results of the conjoint-analysis (part-worth-utilities determined using a Cox-regression) report the highest part-worth-utility for the lowest price, followed by the characteristic “grown locally”. For the labels, the German organic label shows the highest part-worth-utility followed by Fairtrade/“A heart for the producer”. It is remarkable that the carbon-footprint-labels have negative part-worth-utilities compared to tomatoes without a label. The results support the assumption of a social desirability effect, as the price is ranked 12th in the importance of the characteristics on purchasing tomatoes in the survey with a Likert-scale, whereas it is 1st in the evaluation of the quasi-experiment (conjoint-analysis).

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