UK consumer reactions to organic certification logos

Do UK consumers recognise and trust organic certification labels? Does the presence of these labels on a product increases consumer willingness to pay for that product?

The question of consumers’ attitudes towards organic food in general and their recognition of and trust in organic logos is of great importance to the organic industry. In particular, this is an important question for producers as they would require the costs of certification (in terms of both the direct costs and the potential indirect costs associated with compliance with stricter regulations) to be offset by an additional premium that consumers will be willing to pay for their products as a result of these being certified. It is also important to certifying bodies as they need to be able to demonstrate to producers that certification is worthwhile.

ORC staff and colleagues from the University of Kassel in Germany have completed a study to ascertain the reaction of UK consumers to organic certification labels commonly used in the UK. The findings show that UK consumers are willing to pay more for products with organic certification logos as long as they recognise the logos and trust the underlying certification. UK consumers have concerns over the authenticity of organic food and are not fully aware of the certification and inspection process, but do have some trust in the Soil Association and OF&G logos and so are willing to pay a premium for products labelled with these.

Various logos are used to indicate that a particular product satisfies organic standards. As of July 2010, an EU logo has to be displayed on all products that are sold as organic in Europe. Before this date, displaying the EU logo was possible but not compulsory. Products sold as organic in Europe must satisfy the requirements of the EU regulations on organic production and labelling of organic products (EC No. 834/2007 and several implementing regulations).

In the UK and many EU countries, additional logos exist indicating that the product has been produced in compliance with private standards. These standards have existed for many years, for example, the Soil Association, Organic Food Federation, Organic Farmers and Growers (OF&G) and others. To use any of these private organic logos the producer will have undergone an additional process of inspection and certification. Thus, the logos can be perceived as providing an additional level of assurance to the consumers.

These findings can be found in the journal article, UK consumer reactions to organic certification logos, which reports on work carried out in the UK as part of a Europe-wide project, CertCost.

Gerrard, C.L., Janssen, M., Smith, L.G., Hamm, U., Padel, S., (2013) UK consumer reactions to organic certification logos , British Food Journal, 115(5)

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