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Understanding South African consumers’ preferences and market potential for products with low water and carbon footprints

Enoch Owusu-Sekyere, Yondela Mahlathi and Henry Jordaan

Agrekon, 2019, vol. 58, issue 3, 354-368

Abstract: In this article, we used a hybrid latent class model and choice experimental data to examine the choices of consumers regarding water and carbon footprint attributes. The findings indicate that a significant proportion of middle- to upper-class consumers are generally willing to pay higher premiums for a reduction in both water usage and carbon emission in agricultural production, displayed through water and carbon footprint labelling. There exist heterogeneous preferences for water and carbon footprint sustainability attributes, with some being environmental sustainability activists and water sustainability advocates, while others are conservatives regarding environmentally sustainable products. About 86 per cent of the middle-class to upper-class respondents attaches a higher monetary value to low water usage relative to low carbon emissions. The preferences for ecologically sustainable product attributes differ significantly as a function of respondents’ underlying attitudes towards environmental degradation and sustainability, socioeconomic characteristics and awareness of water scarcity situation locally. The findings contribute to the current debate on the possibility of using environmentally sustainable production and ecological footprint labelling to address the problem of ecological externalities in the food and agricultural sector.

Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1080/03031853.2019.1589544

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