Consumers in India and China are putting a greater focus than expected on aspects like food safety and environmental quality when purchasing food, a new Kiwi study has found.
According to the research from the Agribusiness and Research Unit at Lincoln University, consumers in emerging markets show greater discernment, in ways not entirely expected, and this has enormous potential for New Zealand producers, for which this study was compiled.
Country by country
The paper, which assessed Chinese, Indian and UK consumer preferences and willingness to pay for particular attributes in Kiwi food, found that 75% of Chinese and 65% of Indian respondents rated food safety certification as very important.
This was surprisingly higher when compared to just 41% of UK respondents who said that food safety certification was important, though researchers attributed it to a greater trust by UK consumers in food chain regulation and compliance.
According to the research, Chinese consumers are willing to pay 74% more than the normal price for dairy products with food safety certification, while Indian consumers were willing to spend up to 77% more for lamb products with food safety certification.
Interestingly, just 34% of UK respondents rated animal welfare as very important, next to 42% and 50% of Chinese and Indian respondents respectively.
One of the more surprising results of the study was just 29% of UK respondents rating environmental quality as very important next to 58% of the Chinese and 55% of the Indian respondents.
Researchers referred to this finding, as well as other findings, which showed Chinese and Indian consumers valuing organic and GM-free attributes much more highly than UK consumers, as pointers towards the emerging market consumer being more sophisticated than might be expected.
“As incomes grow, consumer behaviour changes. Product attributes other than price start to play a greater role in consumer decision-making,” said Caroline Saunders, Professor of Trade and Environmental Economics at Lincoln University.
“Projections coming of the back of this research show that New Zealand can stand to gain handsomely through increased product certification.”
“For instance, with just food safety certification alone, the potential increase in New Zealand producer returns from dairy and sheep meat exports to China, India and the UK is projected at US$247m to 2020. The most significant increase would likely be with whole milk powder, accounting for some US$139m,” she said.
According to Saunders, when considering food safety, animal welfare, and biodiversity enhancement certifications combined, sheep meat and dairy exports to the three countries in question were projected to increase New Zealand producer returns by more than US$405m to 2020.
“The results strongly suggest that New Zealand producers should give serious consideration to certifying their products,” added Saunders.