Skip to main content
Report, 2015

Why do (don’t) we buy organic food and do we get what we bargain for?

Hoffmann, Ruben; Wivstad, Maria


The market of organic foods is expanding in Sweden and for further market development it is important to know more about consumers’ motives for buying organic products, and also the barriers for not buying organic food. To understand consumer behaviour is difficult, and is complicated by the fact that consumers may have perceptions of quality characteristics of organic food products that are not guaranteed by organic certification and labelling. The organic certification regulates the production processes, not the quality of products, nor the environmental effects. EPOK has initiated this popular science know-ledge synthesis to give an overview of existing literature on consumers’ motives and discuss to what extent some of these motives can be supported by scientific evidence, e.g. health and nutritional, environmental or animal welfare motives. The report is as far as possible based on existing international reviews, with specific references to some regional differences, including specific comments for the Swedish context. It provides an overview of some important aspects of the present and future development of the organic market but should not be viewed as an exhaustive review. It is concluded that some of the organic food characteristics behind these motives are well supported in the scientific literature, e.g. benefits for biodiversity and low incidence of pesticide residues in food, while other qualities cannot be considered to be clearly and consistently supported by scientific research. These conclusions set limits for how organic food could be marketed.


Organic foods, consumers, consumer behaviour, consumer motives, social and environmental benefits

Published in

ISBN: 978-91-576-9285-6
Publisher: Centre for Organic Food and Farming (EPOK)

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Economics
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Crop Production Ecology

UKÄ Subject classification

Other Agricultural Sciences not elsewhere specified

URI (permanent link to this page)