Organic Milk: Attitudes and Consumption Patterns

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BFJ 104,7



Organic milk: attitudes and consumption patterns
Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, Department of Retailing and Marketing, Manchester, UK Keywords Organic food, Milk, Consumer behaviour Abstract This article considers consumer attitudes and motivation towards organic food, and milk specifically. This is then linked to the resulting purchase behaviour. Based on a combination of secondary and primary research, the results indicate the dynamics between these concepts. The resulting discussion highlights the importance of the associated internal and external factors within this area, and their impact for marketing managers.

Helene Hill and Fidelma Lynchehaun

The organic market At a time when most food markets are affected by the debate on ``Every day low price (EDLP) vs Regular Price Promotions'', the organic food market is booming despite low levels of advertising. Consumer demand for organic food continues to grow as current organic consumers buy across different organic food ranges and new consumers are entering the market. Sales of organics increased fourfold in value between 1994 and 1999, at constant prices. Mintel values this market at £390 million in 1998, rising to £550 million during 1999 (Market Intelligence, 1999a). The potential in this market is evident with Tesco predicting sales to reach £1 billion by 2005 as more and more families switch to organic shopping across the UK (M2 Presswire, 2000). Currently however, demand outstrips supply as 70 per cent of all organic foods are imported, while domestic organic production represents 1.3 per cent of total agricultural land. Supermarkets versus niche operators In 1998, some 70 per cent of organic food (and non-alcoholic drink) value sales were channelled through the grocery multiples. Independent retailers, box scheme, retailer farmer markets and Internet home delivery services made up the remaining 20-30 per cent (Market Intelligence, 1999a). Those major retailers who have the strongest commitment to supporting organics are showing strong sales these include Waitrose, Sainsbury and Tesco, as shown in Figure 1. Superpanel data (February 2000) shows that Sainsbury's have 30.6 per cent share of the market, Tesco 27.6 per cent and Waitrose 9.5 per cent, with 1,000, 700 and 1,130 lines respectively (Pettit, 2001, p. 36). Each of these retailers has played a fundamental role in educating consumers about organic food through their activities in-store.

British Food Journal, Vol. 104 No. 7, 2002, pp. 526-542. # MCB UP Limited, 0007-070X DOI 10.1108/00070700210434570

Case study: organic milk


Figure 1. Availability of organic food

Which organic foods are the most popular? General success stories are produce, dairy, in-store bakery and baby food. Sainsbury's stated, ``We find that when customers begin to buy organic food, they buy fresh fruit and vegetables followed by dairy produce and bakery goods'' (Bullion, 2001, p. 15). The top ten products market share and growth are listed in Figure 2. Fruit and vegetables are the most popular organic sector with a 36 per cent share of the total organic food market. Dairy products follow it with 32 per cent and grocery at 28 per cent. The fresh frozen meat sector accounts for only 1 per cent of the total market but it is growing very quickly at +625 per cent year on year (Taylor Nelson Sofres Superpanel, n.d.). What is the difference between organic and non-organic milk? The difference between organic milk and normal milk from a technical perspective is that organic milk is produced from cows reared on a strictly controlled natural diet, and are kept healthy without the use of regular medicinal products. More accurately, ``organic'' is a legally defined quality mark, indicating that the milk has been produced from a dairy herd, which meets the...
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