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Journal cover: British Food Journal

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Online from: 1899

Subject Area: Industry and Public Sector Management

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The nutritional and toxicological value of organic vegetables: Consumer perception versus scientific evidence


Document Information:
Title:The nutritional and toxicological value of organic vegetables: Consumer perception versus scientific evidence
Author(s):Christine Hoefkens, (Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium), Wim Verbeke, (Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium), Joris Aertsens, (Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium), Koen Mondelaers, (Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium), John Van Camp, (Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium)
Citation:Christine Hoefkens, Wim Verbeke, Joris Aertsens, Koen Mondelaers, John Van Camp, (2009) "The nutritional and toxicological value of organic vegetables: Consumer perception versus scientific evidence", British Food Journal, Vol. 111 Iss: 10, pp.1062 - 1077
Keywords:Belgium, Consumers, Organic foods, Perception, Safety, Vegetables
Article type:Literature review
DOI:10.1108/00070700920992916 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Ministry of the Flemish Community (Department of Sustainable Agricultural Development – ADLO). The authors would also like to thank Jeen Van Den Berg for his contribution to this work in the form of a Master's thesis.
Abstract:

Purpose – The present study aims to explore and compare consumer perception and scientific evidence related to food quality and food safety aspects of organic versus conventional vegetables.

Design/methodology/approach – Primary data on consumer perception were gathered in 2006-2007 through a consumer survey with Flemish adults (n=529) and compared with scientific evidence from literature. Consumers of organic and conventional vegetables were selected by means of a convenience sampling procedure. Subjects were asked to complete a self-administered questionnaire concerning the perception of the nutritional and toxicological value of organic relative to conventional vegetables. Data processing and analysis included descriptive analysis (frequency distributions), data reduction (Cronbach's alpha test, factor analysis), bivariate analysis (correlations, t-test, ANOVA) and multivariate analysis (stepwise multiple regression).

Findings – It was found that organic vegetables are perceived as containing less contaminants and more nutrients, and as such, being healthier and safer compared to conventional vegetables. However, not enough evidence is currently available in the literature to support or refute such a perception, indicating a certain mismatch between consumer perception and scientific evidence. The gap between perception and evidence is larger among older consumers with children. The perception is stronger when the consumption frequency is higher, but is independent of gender, place of residence (rural or urban), education and income level. Also non-users, on average, perceive that organic vegetables have a nutritional and toxicological advantage over conventional vegetables.

Research limitations/implications – A non-probability convenience sampling method was applied which limits generalisation of the findings beyond the sample characteristics.

Originality/value – This paper is original in comparing consumer perception and scientific facts related to both nutritional and safety aspects of organic versus conventional vegetables.



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