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UK consumers reluctant to pay a premium for organic products

11 October 2012

  • 65% of UK consumers are not prepared to pay more for organically produced products
  • 63% of consumers believe organic products are no different, or indeed worse, in terms of nutritional and health benefits, than conventionally farmed products

New research by consumer experts Canadean Consumer has revealed that consumers remain unconvinced with regard to claims made around the health and nutritional benefits of organic products; as a consequence, consumers are unwilling to pay more.

The results showed that while 65% of consumers are not prepared to pay more for organic products, among the 37% of consumers who buy into the health and nutritional claims, 59% are prepared to pay more for organic products.

Although consumer opinion does not vary greatly across age and gender, there are some key differences in attitudes when examining social status. Despite little difference in terms of buying into the claims of organic products, those of higher social status are willing to pay more for organic products (38% vs. 30%), although this is still the minority of consumers.

According to Ed Barham, Research Director at Canadean Consumer the results were not unexpected:  “When considering the current economic situation alongside rising food prices generally, it is perhaps not surprising that consumers remain unwilling to pay more for organic products.  With increases in earnings continuing to lag behind inflation the family budget is being squeezed.  Combined with worries around job security individuals and families are keeping a close eye on overall expenditure.  Even consumers perceived as more affluent are feeling the pinch.”

“Interestingly” continues Ed Barham, “other recent research conducted by Canadean Consumer suggests that consumers take a slightly different attitude when choosing a restaurant; food quality remains the overriding driver of consumer choice.”

For the foreseeable future, it is likely that consumers will continue to monitor expenditure, and organic products will struggle to rise up the consumer wish list.  However, with consumers citing quality of food as a key factor with regards to choice of restaurant, and food provenance continuing to gain exposure, consumers could be more willing to purchase organic products in the future.

Figure 1: Willingness to pay more for organic products (% UK respondents) 2012

Willingness to pay more for organic products (% UK respondents) 2012

Source: Canadean © Canadean

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