Purpose – Although consumption of organic food (OF) shows promising trends in Canada, there is no clear understanding of the barriers that still prevent a larger demand for OF. The main objectives of this paper are to understand what, how, where, and why Canadian consumers buy OF by exploring consumers’ motivations and decision-making process, and digging into consumers’ trust orientations with regards to OF.
Design/methodology/approach – In-depth interviews are conducted and data collected are analyzed using content analysis.
Findings – Results indicate that Canadian typical organic product consumers have a defined purchase scheme in terms of retail stores selection and price, as well as values and trust orientations. They identify health, the environment, and support for local farmers as their primary motivators for organic consumption. In particular, health motivation is mainly based on avoidance from chemical residues, antibiotics, hormones, genetically modified organisms, and diseases. Results also show that distribution, certification, country of origin, and labeling are all related to consumers’ level of trust when consuming OF.
Research limitations/implications – Data collection was conducted in only one Canadian city and should be extended to other cities across the country.
Originality/value – This paper entails an exploration of consumer’s decision-making process and their underlying motivations and trust orientations but also an investigation of the marketing mix related to OF.
Organic food (OF) products have become popular in the last few years throughout the world, as the organic farming “industry” eliminates a number of concerns that consumers hold towards conventional food production. Recent research on the Canadian OF market shows relatively new promising trends regarding market acceptance, i.e. through consumers’ shifts in their food consumption. However, in Canada, the OF industry and the farming industry are not yet as advanced as those in the USA and several European nations (MacRae et al., 2002). It is clear that the Canadian market is different from these markets in terms of certification process, product’s distribution structure (Sirieix et al., 2004) and market life cycle (Tutunjian, 2004). As the Canadian OF market has moved from niche market to the mainstream, several strategic issues need to be addressed (Tutunjian, 2008).
Our in-depth interviews allowed us to reach several conclusions with respect to organic consumers, their attitudes towards the OF industry and the products it offers. The following conclusions were reached. It is clear that the OF sector has drastically evolved during the last decade. However, discussions clearly indicate that some barriers limiting a larger consumption of OF are: . consumers’ lack of knowledge and trust with regards to OF products; . high prices making these products less attractive; and . a weak distribution system not allowing for availability of all OF on stores shelves and providing a limited OF variety of product lines carried by grocery stores.