Consumer knowledge, perceptions, practices and the barriers relating to organic foods - Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, South Africa

  • N Erasmus
  • Y Smit
  • D Nel
  • N Koen


Globally, organic food consumption has increased over the past two decades and continues to do so. Although international research on consumer practices, perceptions, knowledge and the barriers relating to organic food has been extensive, the literature in South Africa (SA) is limited. This study aimed to address the apparent knowledge gap. A convergent mixed methods study was conducted. For quantitative data, an interviewer-administered questionnaire was completed with 337 adult consumers at 16 randomly sampled grocery stores in Gauteng, Johannesburg, SA. Study participants were stratified based on their frequency of organic food consumption as regular organic food consumers (ROFC), occasional organic food consumers (OOFC) and non-organic food consumers (NOFC). Qualitative data (N=18) were collected by means of focus group discussions. A total of 44.8% of questionnaire participants were ROFC, 43.0% were NOFC and 12.2% were OOFC. ROFC were significantly older (p=0.040) than NOFC. The main motive for consuming organic food among questionnaire participants was health and nutritional reasons (91.67%). Similarly, focus group discussion participants were primarily motivated to consume organic food for health reasons. Participants perceived organic food to be more environmentally friendly (98.8%) and healthier (94.1%) than conventional food (CF). Most participants disagreed that CF is safer (94.1%), has a superior quality (78.9%) and that it is tastier (61.1%) than organic food. Negative perceptions of organic food predominantly related to the price and availability thereof. The total mean knowledge score was 57.6%, with ROFC having a significantly higher score than NOFC (p=0.048). Focus group discussion data indicated that ROFC had a better understanding of organic food. The main barriers to consuming organic food were the high cost (65.9%) and the lack of availability (57.3%) thereof. Similarly, price, lack of convenience and lack of availability were barriers for the focus group discussion participants


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eISSN: 0378-5254