Consumer behavior of organic and functional foods in Brazil

Adalgisa Paula de Oliveira MARTINS Maria de Fátima BEZERRA Sérgio MARQUES JÚNIOR André Fonseca BRITO Júlio César de ANDRADE NETO José Geraldo Bezerra GALVÃO JÚNIOR Dorgival Morais de LIMA JÚNIOR Adriano Henrique do Nascimento RANGEL About the authors

Abstract

The objective of this study was to correlate the gender and behavior of consumers of organic foods enriched with functional properties. The study was carried out by investigating the profile of organic and functional food consumers through the application of a questionnaire. A total of 1230 responses (of the questionnaire) were collected from people from all Brazilian states through social networks and e-mails following the snowball technique during the months of February and March 2017. The results showed that women expressed greater interest in consuming organic foods enriched with functional properties compared to men. Men and women agree that organic food are produced in a sustainable. Their high price, difficult access, irregular supply and availability in few establishments were highlighted as the main limiting factors for not consuming organic food, while an increased motivation (of consumption) was related to the awareness that organic foods are healthier and can improve quality of life. Fruits and vegetables are the most consumed organic foods among men and women, however women consume more functional foods than men. Thus, there are few differences in behavior and eating habits of organic foods between men and women.

Keywords:
healthy foods; consumption frequency; reasons for consumption; quality of life

1 Introduction

Conventional agriculture is dependent on the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides known to cause serious problems for human health and the environment. However, consumers are increasingly concerned with purchasing products that are not only of good nutritional quality and enjoyable sensory properties, but which also provide diverse health benefits (Assmann et al., 2014Assmann, G., Buono, P., Daniele, A., Della Valle, E., Farinaro, E., Ferns, G., Krogh, V., Kromhout, D., Masana, L., Merino, J., Misciagna, G., Panico, S., Riccardi, G., Rivellese, A. A., Rozza, F., Salvatore, F., Salvatore, V., Stranges, S., Trevisan, M., Trimarco, B., & Vetrani, C. (2014). Functional foods and cardiometabolic diseases. Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases, 24(12), 1272-1300. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.numecd.2014.10.010. PMid:25467217.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.numecd.2014....
; Rana & Paul, 2017Rana, J., & Paul, J. (2017). Consumer behavior and purchase intention for organic food: a review and research agenda. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 38, 157-165. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jretconser.2017.06.004.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jretconser.2...
; Silva et al., 2016Silva, B. V., Barreira, J. C. M., & Oliveira, M. B. P. P. (2016). Natural phytochemicals and probiotics as bioactive ingredients for functional foods: extraction, biochemistry and protected-delivery technologies. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 50, 144-158. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2015.12.007.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2015.12...
). In this context, we have foods with functional properties and those produced from organic farming systems.

Studies indicate that consumers of organic foods tend to be women, individuals with a higher education level, are older, and aware of the benefits provided by this type of food to their health and the environment, and who are willing to pay more (Annunziata & Vecchio, 2016Annunziata, A., & Vecchio, R. (2016). Organic farming and sustainability in food choices: an analysis of consumer preference in Southern Italy. Agriculture and Agricultural Science Procedia, 8, 193-200. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aaspro.2016.02.093.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aaspro.2016....
; Kapuge, 2016Kapuge, K. D. L. R. (2016). Determinants of organic food buying behavior: special reference to organic food purchase intention of Sri Lankan customers. Procedia Food Science, 6, 303-308. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.profoo.2016.02.060.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.profoo.2016....
; Pozzo, 2012Pozzo, D. N. (2012). O perfil do consumidor de alimentos funcionais: um estudo bibliográfico das tendências mundiais. Revista Cadeia Produtiva, 1, 1-15.). Despite the trend towards food consumption that favors a healthy lifestyle, the worldwide segment of organic crops is still small. Data from the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) show that the amount of agricultural land occupied by organic agriculture in the world reached 57.8 million hectares in 2016, representing only 1.2% of cultivated land. Asia accounts for 40% of world organic food production, followed by Africa (27%) and Latin America (17%) (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Moviments, 2018International Federation of Organic Agriculture Moviments – IFOAM. (2018). The world of organic agriculture statistics & emerging trends 2018. Bonn: IFOAM. Retrieved from https://www.ifoam.bio/en/sign-download-world-organic-agriculture-statistics-emerging-trends-2018
https://www.ifoam.bio/en/sign-download-w...
). In Europe, organic vision movements predict that by 2030 only 50% of Europe’s agricultural land will be managed according to the organic principles of health, ecology and justice. (Popa et al., 2019Popa, M. E., Mitelut, A. C., Popa, E. E., Stan, A., & Popa, V. I. (2019). Organic foods contribution to nutritional quality and value. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 84, 15-18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2018.01.003.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2018.01...
). In Brazil, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply develops several policies to support the development of organic production (Brasil, 2018Brasil, Ministério da Agricultura Pecuária e Abastecimento. (2018). Orgânicos. Brasília. Retrieved from http://www.agricultura.gov.br/assuntos/sustentabilidade/organicos
http://www.agricultura.gov.br/assuntos/s...
). This segment grew by 35% between 2014 and 2015 (Mota & Carvalho, 2016Mota, J., & Carvalho, G. R. (2016). Mercado mundial de alimentos orgânicos. Panorama do Leite, 8(86), 7-9. Retrieved from https://ainfo.cnptia.embrapa.br/digital
Retrieved from https://ainfo.cnptia.embr...
).

The reasons that lead consumers to opt to purchase organic and functional foods are related to quality, taste, food safety, healthy lifestyle, concerns about the environment and animal welfare (Bozga, 2015Bozga, N. A. (2015). The perception of Romanian consumer upon organic products’ prices. Procedia Economics and Finance, 27, 190-198. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2212-5671(15)01003-5.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2212-5671(15)...
; Van Doorn & Verhoef, 2015Van Doorn, J., & Verhoef, P. C. (2015). Drives of and barriers to organic purchase behavior. Journal of Retailing, 91(3), 436-450. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jretai.2015.02.003.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jretai.2015....
; Pappalardo & Lusk, 2016Pappalardo, G., & Lusk, J. (2016). The role of beliefs in purchasing processo of functional foods. Food Quality and Preference, 53, 151-158. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2016.06.009.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.201...
; Ueasangkomsate & Santiteerakul, 2016Ueasangkomsate, P., & Santiteerakul, S. (2016). A study of consumers’ attitudes and intention to buy organic foods for sustainability. Procedia Environmental Sciences, 34, 423-430. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.proenv.2016.04.037.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.proenv.2016....
); however, the high price, difficult access and lack of confidence are often reported as barriers to their purchase (Bozga, 2015Bozga, N. A. (2015). The perception of Romanian consumer upon organic products’ prices. Procedia Economics and Finance, 27, 190-198. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2212-5671(15)01003-5.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2212-5671(15)...
; Yadav & Pathak, 2016Yadav, R., & Pathak, G. S. (2016). Intention to purchase organic food among young consumers: evidences from a developing nation. Appetite, 96, 122-128. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2015.09.017. PMid:26386300.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2015.0...
), In addition to insufficient marketing work (Suciu et al., 2019Suciu, N. A., Ferrari, F., & Trevisan, M. (2019). Organic and conventional food: comparison and future research. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 84, 49-51. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2018.12.008.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2018.12...
).

Based on the above, this study aimed to investigate the Brazilian consumer behavior of organic foods with functional properties in relation to gender, verifying whether there are any differences in behavior between men and women in relation to the degree of knowledge, limiting causes and reasons for consumption, places of acquisition, and the most consumed organic and functional foods.

2 Methods

2.1 Study type

This was an exploratory and descriptive study with a quantitative approach. The profile of consumers of organic products was assessed through research using a structured questionnaire with exploratory and descriptive multiple choice questions with verbal and numerical evaluation scales. All procedures were carried out with the authorization of Research Ethics Committee (CEP/UFRN), under license number (94022818.3.0000.5537).

2.2 Structure of the research instrument

Multiple choice questions were used for surveying the sociodemographic profile (age, gender, education level and income). Verbal scales were used for the variables WOULDP, OFTENO, TRUSTO and OFINTE, which respectively correspond to the following questions: How much more would you pay for organic Coalho Cheese? WOULDP; How often do you eat organic food? OFTENO; Express how much do you trust that the food you get is really organic TRUSTO; What is your degree of interest in consuming foods enriched with functional properties? OFINTE.

The responses varied according to verbal scales described in Table 1.

Table 1
Verbal scales.

The remaining questions were evaluated using the variables presented in Table 2, using a numerical scale ranging from 0 (zero), when the respondent totally disagreed with the proposed sentence, to 10 (ten), when the respondent totally agreed with the proposed sentence. The list of functional foods was elaborated based on data from the Virtual Health Library of the Ministry of Health (Brasil, 2009Brasil, Ministério da Saúde, Biblioteca Virtual em Saúde. (2009). Alimentos funcionais. Brasília. Retrieved from http://bvsms.saude.gov.br/bvs/dicas/220_alimentos_funcionais.html
http://bvsms.saude.gov.br/bvs/dicas/220_...
).

Table 2
Dimensions, variables and codes.

2.3 Data collection procedure

An infinite population was considered for this study, since it is not possible to determine a sample frame, which generated a non-probabilistic sampling by convenience using the snowball technique. This technique is applied in social surveys where the initial participants of a study point out new participants, who in turn suggest new participants and so on, until the proposed goal is reached (Baldin & Munhoz, 2011Baldin, N., & Munhoz, E. M. B. (2011). Snowball (bola de neve): uma técnica metodológica para pesquisa em educação ambiental comunitária. In Anais do X Congresso Nacional de Educação (EDUCERE). Curitiba: PUCPR.).

The questionnaire was hosted at the Google Forms® web site (docs.google.com/forms/) and spread via social networks (WhatsApp® and Facebook®) and e-mails of postgraduate programs from several universities throughout Brazil. The data were collected during 37 days between the months of February and March of 2017.

The application of the questionnaire used the branching logic feature provided by the referred site. This resource made it possible to guide the respondent according to their previous response. Thus, an individual who had never consumed organic food was directed to respond about which functional foods they consume the most.

2.4 Procedure for statistical analysis

The responses were collected directly from the site, transferred to Excel® (Redmond, Washinton, US), and the data were subsequently analyzed using IBM SPSS22 Statistics® statistical software (Armonk, New York, US). The profile of the participants was analyzed using descriptive statistics tools and the t-test for independent samples was applied for comparison of the means.

3 Results and discussion

3.1 Profile of respondents

The survey had the participation of 1,230 volunteer respondents, being women (68.8%) and men (32.2%), with the majority aged between 21 and 60 years (93%), with income between one and five minimum wages (64.4%) and complete secondary education (98.9%). With respect to schooling, 12.4% stated they had completed an undergraduate course, and almost half of the respondents had completed graduate studies (49%). This high participation of postgraduates in the study reflects the wide dissemination of the questionnaires among graduate programs. The study reached people from all regions of Brazil, with the highest percentage being observed in the Midwest (32%), Northeast (27.6%) and Southeast regions (21.4%), while the South (11.3%) and North (7.7%) had lower participation.

This sample profile does not correspond to the Brazilian reality. According to Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (2016)Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística – IBGE, Coordenação de Trabalho e Rendimento. (2016). Pesquisa nacional por amostra de domicílios: síntese de indicadores 2015. Rio de Janeiro: IBGE., the percentage of women in 2015 was 51.5% (105.5 million) and men was 48.5% (99.4 million), more than half of the population aged 25 or over was concentrated in education levels corresponding to complete primary education or equivalent (52.0%), 26.4% had completed secondary education, and 13.5% had completed higher education. In this case, it is understood that the results presented in this study are appropriate to the target of the study population.

3.2 Consumer behavior of organic and functional foods

Women were more interested in consuming organic foods enriched with functional properties than men (p<0.05). For the other variables, men and women presented similar behavior, meaning there was no statistically significant difference between the mean values observed (Figure 1). The willingness to pay more for organic cheese was between 10% and 20%, the consumption frequency of organic food between “almost never” and “sometimes”, and the degree of trust between “indifferent” and “confident”.

Figure 1
Relationship between gender and factors that affect the consumption of organic foods. WOULDP = willingness to pay more for an organic cheese; OFTENO = frequency of organic consumption; TRUSTO = level of confidence that food is organic; OFINTE = interest in consuming organic foods with functional properties.

The higher interest among women regarding the consumption of this type of food observed in the present study corroborates findings published by Annunziata & Vecchio (2016)Annunziata, A., & Vecchio, R. (2016). Organic farming and sustainability in food choices: an analysis of consumer preference in Southern Italy. Agriculture and Agricultural Science Procedia, 8, 193-200. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aaspro.2016.02.093.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aaspro.2016....
in a study carried out in southern Italy. The authors found that 53% of consumers of organic foods were women. Results of a study conducted by Hempel & Hamm (2016)Hempel, C., & Hamm, U. (2016). How important is local to organic-minded consumers? Appetite, 96, 309-318. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2015.09.036. PMid:26432955.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2015.0...
with German consumers also point to the same behavior, in which women are often identified as having a higher preference for organic foods compared to men. This finding may be related to the greater interest of the female public in maintaining a healthier lifestyle in order to minimize certain diseases, as well as concern for longevity (Pozzo, 2012Pozzo, D. N. (2012). O perfil do consumidor de alimentos funcionais: um estudo bibliográfico das tendências mundiais. Revista Cadeia Produtiva, 1, 1-15.).

With regard to the willingness to pay more for this type of product, this behavior may be related to the awareness of the quality and the benefits provided to health (Basha et al., 2015Basha, M. B., Mason, C., Shamsudin, M. F., Hussain, H. I., & Salem, M. A. (2015). Consumers atitude towards organic food. Procedia Economics and Finance, 31, 444-452. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2212-5671(15)01219-8.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2212-5671(15)...
; Van Doorn & Verhoef, 2015Van Doorn, J., & Verhoef, P. C. (2015). Drives of and barriers to organic purchase behavior. Journal of Retailing, 91(3), 436-450. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jretai.2015.02.003.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jretai.2015....
; Ueasangkomsate & Santiteerakul, 2016Ueasangkomsate, P., & Santiteerakul, S. (2016). A study of consumers’ attitudes and intention to buy organic foods for sustainability. Procedia Environmental Sciences, 34, 423-430. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.proenv.2016.04.037.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.proenv.2016....
). A study carried out by Leitão (2017)Leitão, S. E. B. (2017). Desenvolvimento de produtos à base de queijo com frutos vermelhos (Dissertação de mestrado). Instituto Politécnico Viseu, Viseu, Portugal. on the intent-to-purchase and the overall preference for cheese with added red fruits of antioxidant functional properties found that the appeal of healthy food may arouse greater consumer interest for purchase when compared to conventional food products. However, Pappalardo & Lusk (2016)Pappalardo, G., & Lusk, J. (2016). The role of beliefs in purchasing processo of functional foods. Food Quality and Preference, 53, 151-158. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2016.06.009.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.201...
, when studying the role of beliefs in the process of purchasing functional foods, based on a type of high fiber enriched snack, point out that consumers of functional foods, despite seeking health in food products, They may not be willing to forgo values such as taste, food safety, naturalness and origin. Thus, it is crucial that producers and industry produce foods that balance such aspects.

3.3 Consumers degree of knowledge about organic food

Men and women agree that organic foods are produced in a sustainable way, without preservatives, chemical fertilizers or pesticides, they are natural and obtained in production systems that preserve animal welfare, the environment and people’s health (Table 3). Despite the existence of a statistically significant difference among all variables, except for NOPRSV, the results present means with very close values for both genders. These findings are in line with studies that demonstrate that consumers believe that organic food contains less chemical waste, respects the environment and allows the welfare of animal production (Denver & Christensen, 2015Denver, S., & Christensen, T. (2015). Organic food and health concerns: a dietary approach using observed data. NJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences, 74-75, 9-15. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.njas.2015.05.001.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.njas.2015.05...
; Gottschalk & Leistner, 2013Gottschalk, I. R., & Leistner, T. (2013). Consumer reactions to the availability of organic food in discount supermarkets. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 37(2), 136-142. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1470-6431.2012.01101.x.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1470-6431.20...
).

Table 3
Relationship between gender and consumers’ knowledge level about organic food.

On the other hand, they demonstrate the high level of awareness of the respondents regarding organic foods. The degree of knowledge of the population can reinforce the consumption trend and consequently increase the interest to purchase, the willingness to pay more and increase the consumption frequency, since increasing consumer awareness about the benefits certain foods have stimulates their acquisition (Lee & Yun, 2015Lee, H., & Yun, Z. (2015). Consumers’ perceptions of organic food attributes and cognitive and affective attitudes as determinants of their purchase intentions toward organic food. Food Quality and Preference, 39, 259-267. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2014.06.002.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.201...
), meaning that the more benefits perceived, the greater the intent to consume (Demirtas, 2018Demirtas, B. (2018). Assessment of the impacts of the consumer’s awareness of organic food on consumption behavior. Food Science and Technology. In press.; Yazdanpanah et al., 2015Yazdanpanah, M., Forouzani, M., & Hojjati, M. (2015). Willingnes of Iranian Young adults to eat organic foods: application of the Health Beliep Model. Food Quality and Preference, 41, 75-83. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2014.11.012.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.201...
).

3.4 Limiting factors and reasons for organic food consumption

Regarding the limiting factors, men presented higher averages than women in relation to high price, lack of interest, inferior quality and low variety (Table 4). The high price, difficult access, irregular supply and availability of products in few establishments were highlighted as the main limiting factors for not consuming organic food, with a higher average for the high price. Such factors constitute barriers to commercialization (Bryła, 2016Bryła, P. (2016). Organic food consumption in Poland: motives and barriers. Appetite, 105, 737-746. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2016.07.012. PMid:27417333.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2016.0...
) and can lead to discouraging those people who want to change their eating habits. Although the high price is considered an obstacle in Brazil (in this study) and in other countries such as Poland (Bryła, 2016Bryła, P. (2016). Organic food consumption in Poland: motives and barriers. Appetite, 105, 737-746. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2016.07.012. PMid:27417333.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2016.0...
), Denmark (Marian et al., 2014Marian, L., Chrysochou, P., Krystallis, A., & Thøgersen, J. (2014). The role of price as a product attribute in the organic food context: an exploratiom based on actual purchase data. Food Quality and Preference, 37, 52-60. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2014.05.001.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.201...
), Netherlands (Van Doorn & Verhoef, 2015Van Doorn, J., & Verhoef, P. C. (2015). Drives of and barriers to organic purchase behavior. Journal of Retailing, 91(3), 436-450. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jretai.2015.02.003.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jretai.2015....
) and the Tunisia (Ghali-Zinoubi & Toukabri, 2019Ghali-Zinoubi, Z., & Toukabri, M. (2019). The antecedents of the consumer purchase intention: Sensivity to price and involvement in organic product: moderating role of product regional identity. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 90, 175-179. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2019.02.028.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2019.02...
), the resistance provoked by this factor can be overcome with marketing studies highlighting the benefits of regularly consuming this type of food (Ghali-Zinoubi & Toukabri, 2019Ghali-Zinoubi, Z., & Toukabri, M. (2019). The antecedents of the consumer purchase intention: Sensivity to price and involvement in organic product: moderating role of product regional identity. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 90, 175-179. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2019.02.028.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2019.02...
; Lee & Yun, 2015Lee, H., & Yun, Z. (2015). Consumers’ perceptions of organic food attributes and cognitive and affective attitudes as determinants of their purchase intentions toward organic food. Food Quality and Preference, 39, 259-267. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2014.06.002.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.201...
) by employing price policies that balance sacrifice and optimal quality (Huang et al., 2019Huang, L., Bai, L., Zhang, X., & Gong, S. (2019). Re-understanding the antecedentes of functional foods purchase: mediating effect of purchase atitude and moderating effect of food neofobia. Food Quality and Preference, 73, 266-275. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2018.11.001.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.201...
). Moreover, the other limiting factors indicate that producers and those responsible for marketing must develop strategies to correct these problems.

Table 4
Limiting factors and reasons for consuming organic foods.

The motivations for consumption attributed by the respondents were the fact that they were tastier, more nutritious and the existence of environmental awareness, as well as the contribution to improving quality of life and being healthier, with these two factors reaching averages above 8.00 (Table 3). Annunziata & Vecchio (2016)Annunziata, A., & Vecchio, R. (2016). Organic farming and sustainability in food choices: an analysis of consumer preference in Southern Italy. Agriculture and Agricultural Science Procedia, 8, 193-200. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aaspro.2016.02.093.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aaspro.2016....
reinforce that consumers purchase organic food because they are healthier and more sustainable than conventional foods. The term “organic” has positive connotations in food, being understood as safer and of higher quality than conventional foods, and preservation of the environment is only a mediator of consumption and not a final motivation (Vega-Zamora et al., 2013Vega-Zamora, M., Parras-Rosa, M., Murgado-Armenteros, E. M., & Torres-Ruiz, F. J. (2013). The influence of the therm ‘Organic’ on organic food purchasing behavior. Procedia: Social and Behavioral Sciences, 81, 660-671. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.06.493.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013....
), since consumption is mainly driven by its effects on health and well-being of the individual and their family (Annunziata & Vecchio, 2016Annunziata, A., & Vecchio, R. (2016). Organic farming and sustainability in food choices: an analysis of consumer preference in Southern Italy. Agriculture and Agricultural Science Procedia, 8, 193-200. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aaspro.2016.02.093.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aaspro.2016....
; Yadav, 2016Yadav, R. (2016). Altruistc or egoistic: which value promotes organic food consumption among yong consumers? A study in the contexto of a developing nation. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 33, 92-97. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jretconser.2016.08.008.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jretconser.2...
; Yadav & Pathak, 2016Yadav, R., & Pathak, G. S. (2016). Intention to purchase organic food among young consumers: evidences from a developing nation. Appetite, 96, 122-128. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2015.09.017. PMid:26386300.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2015.0...
).

In relation to quality, consumers of organic foods usually attribute higher nutritional quality to conventional foods (Denver & Christensen, 2015Denver, S., & Christensen, T. (2015). Organic food and health concerns: a dietary approach using observed data. NJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences, 74-75, 9-15. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.njas.2015.05.001.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.njas.2015.05...
); however, this idea is controversial (Florence et al., 2012Florence, A. C. R., Oliveira, R. P. S., Silva, R. C., Soares, F. A. S. M., Gioielli, L. A., & Oliveira, M. N. (2012). Organic milk improves Bifidobacterium lactis counts and bioative fatty acids contentes in fermentes milk. Lebensmittel-Wissenschaft + Technologie, 49(1), 89-95. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lwt.2012.04.023.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lwt.2012.04....
; Schwendel et al., 2017Schwendel, B. H., Wester, T. J., Morel, P. C. H., Fong, B., Tavendale, M. H., Deadman, C., Shadbolt, N. M., & Otter, D. E. (2017). Pasture feeding conventional cows removes differences between organic and conventionally produced milk. Food Chemistry, 229, 805-813. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.02.104. PMid:28372247.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.201...
). For example, Bernacchia et al. (2016)Bernacchia, R., Preti, R., & Vinci, G. (2016). Organic and conventional foods: differences in nutrientes. Italian Journal of Food Science, 28, 565-578. argue that studies in this respect have flaws concerning the comparison between environments, crop inputs used for development, yield, plant and fruit quality.

Men and women presented close means, but with higher values regarding the motivation for organic food consumption (p<0.05). These differences between men and women are likely to reinforce the trend towards greater preference for organic foods among women, as shown in a study conducted with German consumers (Hempel & Hamm, 2016Hempel, C., & Hamm, U. (2016). How important is local to organic-minded consumers? Appetite, 96, 309-318. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2015.09.036. PMid:26432955.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2015.0...
).

3.5 Acquisition sites and most consumed organic and functional foods

The present study shows that the purchase of organic foods in Brazil based on the profile sample used is mainly carried out at supermarkets and organic markets (Table 5), and women also shop at natural product stores more often than men (p < 0.05). This latter information is in agreement with a study by Nascimento et al. (2017)Nascimento, L. M., Silva, V. A., Pivetta, N. P., & Scherer, F. L. (2017). A percepção dos consumidores em relação às estratégias de marketing desenvolvidas por uma empresa de produtos naturais e orgânicos. Revista Brasileira de Marketing, 16(2), 168-179. http://dx.doi.org/10.5585/remark.v16i2.3249.
http://dx.doi.org/10.5585/remark.v16i2.3...
carried out at an organic and natural product distributor located in the central region of Rio Grande do Sul. The authors observed that 83.3% of the clients were females, which suggests a higher demand of this group in relation to the male clientele in these locations.

Table 5
Locations for the purchase of the most consumed organic and functional foods.

With regard to the places of purchase, it is important to take into account marketing strategies that improve the distribution channels (Yadav & Pathak, 2016Yadav, R., & Pathak, G. S. (2016). Intention to purchase organic food among young consumers: evidences from a developing nation. Appetite, 96, 122-128. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2015.09.017. PMid:26386300.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2015.0...
), so that they are made available at different locations and consequently become more accessible to consumers. In addition, considering that awareness of the benefits provided by food ingredients may be related to the time of knowledge of scientific evidence (Bornkessel et al., 2014Bornkessel, S., Bröring, S., Omta, S. W. F., & Van Trijp, H. (2014). What determines ingredient awareness of consumers? A study on ten functional food ingredients. Food Quality and Preference, 32, 330-339. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2013.09.007.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.201...
), it is important that such findings are disseminated to the population to increase the consumer public.

Fruits and vegetables are the most consumed organic foods, followed by apicultural foods/bee products, cereals and their derivatives, and milk and its derivatives (Table 5). This emphasizes that from the statistical point of view, women consume eggs and apicultural foods slightly more than men (p<0.05). Meat and fish with organic certification were rated as the least consumed among both men and women, with scores below 3.00. The same table also shows that women were higher than men in the consumption of all the described functional foods, with the exception of probiotic dairy products. Vegetables and legumes can be highlighted as the most consumed functional foods by men and women, followed by fruits, condiments and soy, corn and whole grains.

4 Conclusion

Men and women exhibit similar behavior in relation to the consumption of organic foods, which are perceived as products produced in a sustainable way, without preservatives, pesticides or chemical fertilizers, which are natural and obtained in production systems that preserve animal welfare, the environment and people’s health. Differences in behavior and consumption habits among Brazilian men and women were few: from the statistical point of view, women are more interested in consuming organic foods with functional properties, purchasing natural products from stores and consuming eggs and apicultural foods and functional foods a little more than men in general.

Acknowledgements

The authors give thanks to the CAPES Foundation for financial support.

  • Practical Application: The segments responsible for food production should be aligned with the profile of a consuming public increasingly concerned about consuming healthy food produced in harmony with the environment.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    20 Dec 2019
  • Date of issue
    Apr-Jun 2020

History

  • Received
    15 Feb 2019
  • Accepted
    28 Sept 2019
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