The same only different? how a pandemic shapes consumer organic food purchasing

Stefanie Sohn*, Barbara Seegebarth, David Woisetschläger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Organic food consumption is seen as a key strategy to alleviate both environmental and health problems. Although consumer purchasing of organic food has regularly been studied, major gaps exist in the literature. Knowledge is missing on how contextual factors, such as pandemics (e.g., COVID-19 pandemic), affect individuals' purchasing of organic food. Therefore, the aim of this research is to examine the effect of a pandemic on organic food purchasing. To provide evidence on this effect, data collected at two points in time (before the COVID-19 pandemic and during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic) from 429 German consumers was analyzed with structural equation modeling. The results showed that pandemics positively influence both consumer quality consciousness (β =.116) and health consciousness (β =.106) and thereby enhance organic food purchasing. However, pandemics were not found to shape a consumers' environmental consciousness (β = −.005). Additional analyses showed that the effects of a pandemic are not equal for all consumer segments and that consumers' income occupies—different than consumers' age, gender, and education—a decisive role. For instance, pandemics promote consumers' health consciousness only for consumers of lower than of higher income. These findings yield the diverse implications for practitioners and public policy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Consumer Behaviour
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1121-1134
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2022


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