Consumer preferences for sustainable production methods in apple purchasing behaviour: a non-hypothetical choice experiment
Increasing concern for potential risks on human health related to the overuse of chemicals in farming has promoted the research of alternative production methods. This paper contributes to the current literature by presenting a non-hypothetical choice experiment study that investigates apple consumers' preferences for alternative production systems moving from a conventional to organic production, passing through an integrated pest management and an innovative technique that uses biocontrol agents. Other investigated attributes are appearance, origin and low greenhouse gas emission practices. The non-hypothetical choice experiment was carried out in supermarkets by asking respondents to pay out of their own pocket for the chosen product. Most of interviewed people stated to have cut-off values in mind when purchasing apples and their choices have been modelled according to the Swait soft cut-off approach. Non-compensatory model estimations confirm previous evidence that ignoring thresholds in data sets that contain them leads to significant errors in terms of willingness to pay. Results suggest that respondents, besides preferring organic production, seem to not perceive the potential benefits of other sustainable production methods.