Purchasing organic food in US food systems: A study of attitudes and practice

Benjamin M. Onyango, William K. Hallman, Anne C. Bellows

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Purpose - This study aims to identify and estimate the influence of consumers' views of specific food aspects (attributes) and personal attributes on demand for organic foods. Design/methodology/approach - A logistic regression is applied to US national survey data to analyze consumers' willingness to buy organic foods. The modeling approach assumes a rational consumer with a well-behaved utility function (i.e. with preferences that are complete, reflexive and transitive). Findings - Food naturalness aspect (no artificial flavors or colorings), vegetarian-vegan identity (persons who do not eat meat or animal products) and US production location considerations were critical in determining the regularity of organic food purchases. Food familiarity aspect (whether the respondent has consumed a food previously or prefers a familiar brand) was negatively associated with organic food purchases. Females and young people buy organic foods on a regular basis, as do the more politically liberal and moderately religious. Research limitations/implications - Given the scope of the survey data, certainly not all aspects about food are included in this study. It is suggested, therefore, that future studies incorporate public opinion on a larger spectrum of product attributes. Practical implications - This study contributes to the emerging literature by broadening the list of drivers of organic foods purchases beyond socio-economics factors to include public opinions regarding characteristics of food that are important in consumption decisions. The information generated will inform policy makers and organic food marketers as the organic food industry evolves. Originality/value - The paper evaluates organic food preferences in the light of food attributes, going beyond the current treatment with predictions limited largely to socioeconomics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-411
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Food Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Consumer behaviour
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Diet
  • Organic foods
  • United States of America

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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