1 Department of Marketing and Statistics, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University2 MAPP - Centre for Research on Customer Relations in the Food Sector, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University3 Marketing and Sustainability, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University4 Department of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University5 Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University6 Department of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University7 Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University
Sales of organic foods have tremendously increased over the last years. The conclusion seems obvious: European consumers have become more health-conscious. Or have they? In fact, it is not quite clear from previous research whether rising market shares reflect changes in consumer attitudes, changes in the supply structure, or changes in the pricing of foods. Five scales from the Food-Related Lifestyle instrument (FRL) were used in replicated consumer surveys in Germany in 1993 (N=1000) and 1996 (N=1042), France in 1994 (N=1000) and 1998 (N=1000), and the UK in 1994 (N=1000) and 1998 (=1000). The five scales (three items each) assessed the importance of organic foods, healthiness, freshness, novelty, and the price/quality relation to consumers' food choices. Trends in the importance of these aspects were modeled using multi-sample confirmatory factor analysis with structured means. Results indicate that, contrary to widespread expectations, the importance of healthy/unprocessed foods, organic foods, and fresh foods has been declining in all three countries since the early 1990s. The pattern suggests that the actual consumer trend to organic foods already peaked several years ago, and that the current boom is likely to be a mere short-term consequence of changes in prising and distribution.