Australian consumers have shown a strong willingness to pay more for eco-labelled vegetables, while indicating supermarkets should favour environmentally-responsible suppliers, according to new research.
The findings are the result of a series of consumer focus groups and an online survey of more than 1,000 grocery-buyers, conducted by Applied Horticultural Research in conjunction with AusVeg.
“More than 40% of participants indicated they were willing to pay more for certified sustainable products, while more than half said supermarkets should favour environmentally-responsible suppliers, even if it meant prices would increase,” said AusVeg spokesman Hugh Gurney. The horticultural body represents 9,000 Australian vegetable and potato growers.
“The study demonstrated that people most interested in eco-labels tend to like vegetables and consume more of them. They also usually buy free-range eggs, have some interest or experience with growing their own vegetables or herbs, and often have above average household income.”
The survey also found that consumers already had strong views about purchasing products like free-range eggs and non-generic brands of milk, but were less familiar with the wider issues around the production of vegetables.
However, despite the findings, stated consumer intentions are not necessarily in line with sales figures.
With strong in-principle support for environmentally sustainable products in mind, AusVeg has been developing its own eco-labeling scheme, in conjunction with retailer Coles.
“Consumers are telling us they want to buy environmentally sustainable products and are willing to pay more to do so,” said Gurney, adding that once it is operational, the labeling scheme will provide shoppers with “reliable information and the peace of mind they need to make informed purchasing decisions”.