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How Does Consumers’ Care for Origin Shape Their Behavioural Gap for Environmentally Friendly Products?

Maria Teresa Trentinaglia De Daverio (), Teresina Mancuso (), Massimo Peri () and Lucia Baldi ()
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Teresina Mancuso: Department of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (DISAFA), Univeristy of Turin, 10095 Grugliasco, Italy
Massimo Peri: Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of Milan, Via G. Celoria 2, 20133 Milan, Italy
Lucia Baldi: Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of Milan, Via G. Celoria 2, 20133 Milan, Italy

Sustainability, 2020, vol. 13, issue 1, 1-19

Abstract: Climate change is threatening worldwide crop yields and varieties, and the desertification of Southern Europe and Mediterranean areas is endangering the cultivation of tomato, not only one of the most important cultivated crops, but also one of the main pillars of the global food industry. To minimize its environmental impact, current research efforts in Europe are selecting resilient tomato genotypes with reduced use of water and fertilizers. Still, its commercial acceptance depends on consumers’ reaction in terms of interests, attitudes, and willingness to buy and pay for this hypothetical resilient tomato. In our setting, a behavioural gap exists whenever despite an interest for the product, and regardless of a positive attitude towards it, consumers are not willing to pay a premium price for this tomato. This paper focuses on Italians, among the largest tomato consumers across the world, and for whom origin emerges as a relevant consumption driver. We carried out a web-survey, totalling 932 responses. We ran three different ordinal regressions, one for each level of involvement in the purchasing process, identifying the factors affecting consumers’ interest, attitude, and behaviour towards this hypothetical tomato. We prove the existence of a behavioural gap for Italian tomato consumers and observe that this gap widens as consumers’ preferences for origin increase. Hence, policies developing environmentally sustainable products should not forget how consumer preferences for non-strictly environmental attributes might ultimately affect their propensity to buy and pay.

Keywords: environmental sustainability; consumer behavioural gap; tomato; food origin; Italy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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