Meijers, M. H. C., & Van Dam, Y. K. (2012). Sustainable food purchases in the Netherlands: the influence of consumer characteristics. Journal on Chain and Network Science, 12, 181-198. DOI: 10.3920/jncs2012.x012

In this paper socio-demographic characteristics of sustainable food consumers are studied by using actual purchasing data of 4,412 households in a wide range of food products over a twenty week period in the months November 2008 till March 2009. Our results indicate that purchasing sustainable food products is still the exception rather than the rule. Socio-demographic characteristics are (weakly) related to the purchasing sustainable food items. Specifically, people with a higher education and those living in a more urban area are more likely to purchase sustainable products. Psychographic data on a subsample (n=1,112) show a weak relation between sustainability concerns and sustainable behaviour. Scales measuring people’s sustainability concerns specific to purchasing products (e.g. Ethical orientation scale) are better predictors of people’s sustainable consumption than scales measuring people’s general sustainability concerns (e.g. Connectedness to Nature scale). Since consumer characteristics seem to be of little predictive value of sustainable consumption it may be wise to shift the focus from investigating who the sustainable consumer is to how to make sustainable products successful. In the discussion we offer some initial guiding principles.
Keywords: sustainability, socio-demographic characteristics, consumption, fair trade, pro-environmental