A survey of almost 3,000 people carried out by the Higher Federal Education and Research Institute (HBLFA Raumberg-Gumpenstein), part of the Austrian Agriculture Ministry, served to spotlight the attitudes of Austrian teens and young adults (aged 15- to 25-years-old).
Its findings show significant support in this demographic for organic food production. Seventy-three percent of teens and young adults hold organic foods in “high” or “very high” esteem and 81% believe that organic production methods should be further expanded in Austria. In total, 60% of respondents said they wanted organic consumption to increase, compared to just 6% who suggested organic consumption should be reduced.
Support for organics is also translating into purchasing behaviour, the HBLFA found. Sixty-four percent of respondents said that “at least one organic item” was “always” or “often” included in their basket during every trip to the grocery store.
Younger consumers appear more willing to pay a premium for organic products. When presented with a choice between purchasing a conventional and an organic product and asked how much more the organic product can cost, on average respondents said they would pay almost 60% more for an organic hamburger or pork chop, over 60% more for an organic banana or fruit yogurt, and almost 80% more for organic chocolate.
While the HBLFA found significant support for organic production methods among Austria’s youth, understanding of organic regulations was more mixed, with 56% stating that they know organic regulations versus 44% who said they did not.
What is driving support?
Interest in organic food is supported by “increasingly important altruistic attitudes”, which take in animal welfare as well as environmental and human protection, the agency noted.
A desire for “healthy nutrition” and traceability also “play a big role”. A high proportion – 90% - of people said they want to know how their food was produced, while 72% also said they wanted to know which farms it was produced on.
Respondents who expressed supportive views of organic production were also likely to eat meat less frequently and consume less fast food, the study showed.
Austrian youth are more likely to eat vegetarian or vegan products than the population average. The HBLFA concluded that “experience of community” is a key driver for vegetarian or vegan consumption, with urban, female students aged 20-15 the most likely group to go meat-free.
The HBLFA suggested that organic manufacturers should work to cultivate increased awareness through education and community outreach in order to support future growth. “If the link to sustainable agriculture and food production … or enjoyment and community can be made tangible, this strengthens the quality awareness and thus also organic and domestic agriculture.”
Occasional organic buyers can also be cultivated through “targeted measures”, highlighting lifestyle and the environment. Consumption can also be supported through marketing and product development, including the introduction of “trendy” or convenient products, the HBLFA concluded.