Are consumers more willing to pay extra for foods that are organic or are raised humanely? The answer is YES, according to a study conducted by a team of researchers at the Iowa State University.

The study, published in the Journal of Agrobiotechnology Management & Economics, had 129 adults aged 18-65 years old as respondents. The target population for this study had a mean education of 17 years, and an average annual per capita household income of up to US$30,530.

The study was executed in the manner similar to an auction, wherein the participants were asked to bid for 1 unit of each of 3 target commodities: a) 1 unit of U.S. Grade A, dark amber, maple syrup; b) 1 unit of whole bean, Arabica, French roast coffee; and c) 1 unit of cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil.

All three products were the only ones that carried a “100% organic” label from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Other commodities were also in the study which served as control products.

Consumers More Picky about their Purchases, Want Organic

The study’s findings established that consumers were willing to pay US$4 more on Grade A maple syrup, almost US$2 more on organic coffee, and US$2.5 more on cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil compared to buying the cheaper standard products. Consumers were definitely willing to pay more for products with higher organic purity, the researchers said.

The researchers said that consumers who had more education, were college students, were members of an environmental group, and earned a higher per-capita income were the ones willing to pay higher premiums for organic rather than conventional foods or products.

However, the study’s authors said that there are challenges in producing and monitoring organic produce which might prevent or make it much more difficult to promote organic products. Considering that it costs more to “produce, handle, monitor for truthful labeling, and display foods with 99% or 100% organic purity, especially for fruits, vegetables, grains, oilseeds, fresh meat, eggs, etc., the retail market for 100% organic products is expected to remain small,” the researchers said.

Consumers’ Attitude toward GMOs and Growth Hormones

The study’s findings jived with a study made a year ago, demonstrating consumers’ many preferences for animal-based products. A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign team of researchers examined the buying habits of consumers toward buying animal products such as chicken, beef, eggs and even milk.

The results indicated that consumers look for 7 common attributes when buying animal products. The primary concern they have when buying was that the animals were not given growth hormones and that these were not genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Thirdly, the study’s participants wanted the animals they buy were humanely raised and were not given antibiotics. They also want that the food products they buy came from animals that were free-range and grass-fed without pesticides and GMOs. Choosing an organic product was really a big concern for the consumers, according to the researchers.

This means that money was not a major factor in buying these kinds of humanely-raised animal products. I think we should develop many more organic products that were raised humanely since there is a growing market for these. While we help in promoting this consciousness and preference among consumers, we can help propagate the concept of advocating not only “natural medicine” but also a “natural lifestyle” among the majority of the population.

How about you, are you willing to pay more for organic and humanely-raised animal food products? Share your opinions in the comments section below.

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