Consumers’ attitude to fruit produced by using biocontrol agentsand climate change mitigation practices
Abstract: Concerns for potential risks related to the use of chemical pesticides have encouragedresearch of low impact alternatives as biocontrol agents (BCAs) and the implementation of amore environmentally sound agricultural management as the integrated pest management (IPM)and organic agriculture. A new regulation was recently implemented in the European Union (ECNo 834/2007), which establishes the legal framework for all levels of production, distribution,control and labelling of organic products. Most of the European consumers are now familiar withIPM and organic products. Climate change is becoming a hot issue and mitigation practices areunder discussion in agriculture, too. The level of consumers’ awareness of mitigation practicesand their willingness to pay for products produced with low carbon emission is unknown.Consumers’ attitudes and preferences to fruit (apples) produced by using BCAs instead ofchemical pesticides and/or climate change mitigation practices were evaluated in a choiceexperiment. Preference for other apple determinants such as origin, appearance and price werealso considered. The survey was administered to 96 consumers in different supermarkets inNorthern Italy during fall 2009. Results show that in purchase decision, origin and price are themajor determinants, followed by organic production and good appearance. Using BCAs andclimate change mitigation practices increased the probability of purchasing apples. However,only coefficient associated to climate change is statistically significant and respondents arewilling to pay a premium price of about 0.50 Euro/kg. Moreover, results indicate that whenbuying apples most people have specific requirements in mind regarding method of production,origin, appearance and price, but comparing choices made by the respondents with theirindividually-stated minimum requirements, the majority violated them.