`Do You Consider Yourself an Ecological Consumer?

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Do You Consider Yourself an Ecological Consumer?

Apr. 1, 2012
Olivarama

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ECOLÓGICO / ORGANIC

Organic food­stuffs have already taken up res­i­dence in one fourth of Span­ish house­holds. This is because there is a group of peo­ple who are per­fectly famil­iar with this prod­uct type, who con­ceive them to be more nat­ural” and who buy them, mainly, in hyper­mar­kets. Or at least these are the results of a study in which the Span­ish Gov­ern­ment iden­ti­fies the pro­file and habits of the organic con­sumers in our coun­try.

Olivia, 40 years old, from Madrid, mar­ried and with two chil­dren under the age of 12. She has a uni­ver­sity edu­ca­tion and admits to a cer­tain sen­si­tiv­ity towards the envi­ron­ment and sus­tain­abil­ity. For the last 5 years she has been con­sum­ing organic prod­ucts, the major­ity of which she buys in hyper­mar­kets because she believes they help her care for her own health and that of her fam­ily.

This short descrip­tion out­lines the iden­tikit” of a Span­ish con­sumer of eco­log­i­cal prod­ucts. It also coin­cides with the pro­file drawn up by the cur­rent Min­istry for Agri­cul­ture, Food and the Envi­ron­ment, based on the con­clu­sions of a study that claims organic food is already present in one fourth of Span­ish homes. They even go so far as to rep­re­sent 24% of the shop­ping bas­ket and, given their ver­sa­til­ity, the inhab­i­tants com­bine them with an infi­nite amount of deli­cious dishes.

Or at least this is the inter­pre­ta­tion after read­ing Char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion of the organic food con­sumer typol­ogy and their socio-demo­graphic pro­file in Spain, which had the objec­tive of char­ac­ter­is­ing the cur­rent type, the socio-demo­graphic pro­file and the geo­graphic loca­tion of the con­sumers in the national ter­ri­tory, while also deter­min­ing new con­sumer types and get­ting to know the cur­rent rea­sons for pur­chase.

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This project forms part of the activ­i­ties financed by the Gov­ern­ment within the Col­lab­o­ra­tion Agree­ment with the Span­ish organic prod­ucts fed­er­a­tion, Fed­eración Española de Empre­sas con Pro­duc­tos Ecológi­cos (Fepeco).

They know what they’re buy­ing

After extrap­o­lat­ing the data gath­ered from 450 inter­views, the analy­sis con­cludes that 26% of Spaniards recog­nise the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion labels, know exactly what an organic prod­uct is and con­sume it, at least, once per month.
On the con­trary, only one third of the soci­ety dis­tin­guishes the char­ac­ter­is­tic labelling and, strangely, very few Spaniards iden­tify the new Euro­pean logo, effec­tive since July 2010.

Among the most demanded prod­uct cat­e­gories are fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles, which are pre­cisely the port of access to this type of mar­ket. Next come chicken and meat. And among the least in demand, is children’s food.

Unfor­tu­nately, there is lit­tle to add about extra vir­gin olive oil, as the study did not analyse it as an inde­pen­dent prod­uct. It is prob­a­bly included within one of the prod­uct cat­e­gories analysed, such as Other types of pack­aged foods”, oth­ers” or, even under the head­ing of Snacks, sweets, jams, honey…”. A defi­ciency that is quite seri­ous given that it is the icon of our eat­ing pat­tern and con­sti­tutes one of the most expe­ri­enced food­stuffs when it comes to eco­log­i­cal pro­duc­tion.

In any case, the study does prove that the pre­ferred estab­lish­ment type for pur­chases is the hyper­mar­ket, over and above spe­cialised shops.

More women than men

The eco-con­sumers” are peo­ple com­mit­ted to sus­tain­abil­ity and the envi­ron­ment, the major­ity are pro­fes­sion­ally active and female. Their aver­age age is 40 years old, they have chil­dren under the age of 12, good aca­d­e­mic edu­ca­tion lev­els and high pur­chas­ing power.

In spite of liv­ing in homes through­out the Span­ish ter­ri­tory, the major­ity is con­cen­trated in the North­east and cen­tre of the Penin­sula, espe­cially in homes with four mem­bers located in large cities.

Accord­ing to their atti­tudes to envi­ron­men­tal, ecol­ogy and health aspects, four con­cep­tual groups were iden­ti­fied:

• Con­vinced: this is the most impor­tant group as it rep­re­sents 32% of the total. Its mem­bers are in favour of organic and sus­tain­able con­sump­tion, which they have been prac­tic­ing for over 7 years. They call for a more nat­ural and envi­ron­men­tally-friendly lifestyle.

• Un-involved: this group includes 26% of the organic con­sumers. It is made up of peo­ple who acquire this type of prod­uct fol­low­ing the cur­rent trends. They are the least likely to increase their con­sump­tion of these food­stuffs.

• Ecol­o­gists: inhab­i­tants who have enor­mous sen­si­tiv­ity towards the envi­ron­ment and are will­ing to try new prod­ucts. They con­sti­tute 21%.

• Con­cerned about health: the major­ity are women seek­ing per­sonal care based on eco­log­i­cal eat­ing habits and phys­i­cal exer­cise. For this group, which rep­re­sents 21% of the total, the price fac­tor stops them from buy­ing more organic prod­ucts.

Pos­i­tive ten­dency

The con­clu­sions of this sur­vey show con­sid­er­able growth poten­tial for the eco­log­i­cal prod­ucts. Indeed, the respon­dents reflect more knowl­edge about sus­tain­able con­sump­tion and are will­ing to increase their pur­chases.

Among the rea­sons men­tioned when buy­ing these food­stuffs, the first indi­cated is con­cern for health, both when it comes to begin­ning con­sump­tion and for con­tin­u­ing. How­ever, it is also true that the major­ity of them have been feed­ing their bod­ies these food types, which they con­sider more nat­ural”, for an aver­age of over 5 years.

Accord­ing to the research, those who feed off bio prod­ucts also buy arti­cles from other dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories, espe­cially related to energy-sav­ing in low-con­sump­tion light bulbs, class A white goods, etc.

More avail­abil­ity, more con­sump­tion

Although this seg­ment is gain­ing ground in the Span­ish food sec­tor in gen­eral, the Gov­ern­ment believes it is essen­tial to pro­mote con­sump­tion, by increas­ing mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion and facil­i­tat­ing access.

To do so, it is essen­tial to work on the bar­ri­ers that pre­vent an inten­si­fi­ca­tion of con­sump­tion, includ­ing the lim­ited avail­abil­ity and price, which con­sti­tute the main rea­sons that oblige users not to buy cer­tain cat­e­gories.

Undoubt­edly, with this analy­sis the Min­istry reflects the strong expan­sion poten­tial of the prod­uct made in our ter­ri­tory by fol­low­ing the pre­cepts of organic agri­cul­ture. It is impor­tant to remem­ber that Spain is the sec­ond Euro­pean coun­try and the eighth in the world when it comes to sur­face area ded­i­cated to organic crops.

Más infor­ma­ción / Fur­ther infor­ma­tion: marm.es and fepeco.es

Oli­varama arti­cles also appear in Oli­varama mag­a­zine and are not edited by Olive Oil Times.

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