Germany is the largest market for organic foods in Europe and has grown continuously over the past decade. It now accounts for about 31% of total organic sales in the region. However, when the EU-wide organic logo was introduced across the bloc in July 2012, the benefits of existing voluntary labels were questioned. Indeed, some researchers have claimed that a proliferation of organic food logos may confuse consumers.
Now, researchers have examined German consumers’ attitudes toward the EU logo as well as pre-existing organic labels – through focus groups, interviews, and choice experiments – and found that different logos may effectively serve different market segments.
In particular, they found that the German governmental Bio-Siegel logo, introduced in 2001, was better trusted than the EU logo, despite being based on identical standards. In addition, the Demeter label, which requires production standards that exceed and supplement EU standards in some respects, was preferred by frequent buyers of organic foods.
“Only in the event that the EU logo gains a high level of consumer trust in the future will the Bio-Siegel logo be dispensable,” the authors wrote.
They added: “The marketing theory of competitive advantage suggests that suppliers will display an organic logo of a private organisation only if the logo is recognised by consumers to ‘add value’ over and above the mandatory EU logo (which must be used). …Furthermore, private organisations should raise the awareness of their logos and, most important, shape consumer perceptions of the standards behind their logos.”
Voluntary labelling had been helping would-be consumers of organic foods make purchasing decisions in Germany since the organic industry first started to gain ground there in the 1980s and many private organisations’ logos are well-recognised.
Source: Food Policy
“Governmental and private certification labels for organic food: Consumer attitudes and preferences in Germany”
Authors: Meike Janssen, Ulrich Hamm