Agro‐biotechnology and organic food purchase in the United Kingdom


Purpose: The objective of this paper is to evaluate the role of consumers' perceived risks and benefits of agro‐biotechnology in shaping the purchase pattern for organic food among UK consumers.

Design/methodology/approach: An on‐line household survey of UK consumers was conducted using household panels maintained by the National Panel Diary (NPD) group. The data included organic food purchase pattern, perceived risks and benefits of agro‐biotechnology, and socio‐demographic information about the respondents. A regression model was used to examine the impact of consumers' general purchase behavior, perceived risks and benefits of GM technology, and socio‐demographic on organic food purchase.

Findings: Only 4 percent of the respondents purchased organic foods all the time, while 26 percent never purchased. Perceived risks of agro‐biotechnology played a dominant role in influencing organic food purchase decisions. As the risk perception increased consumers were likely to buy organic food more often. Although premium prices of organic foods were of concern to many consumers, food safety was the most important consideration when making organic food purchase decisions. Household income positively influenced consumers' likelihood of buying organic food. Female respondents were likely to purchase organic foods more often than their male counter parts. Older respondents were less likely to buy organic foods compared to younger respondents.

Practical implications: The results of this study provide valuable information in formulating short and long‐term marketing programs for organic producers. Following the study results, food safety concern and perceived risks of GM food products need to be the overall theme of marketing programs for organic products.

Originality/value: The study uses a large sample size in examining the relationship between perceived risks of agro‐biotechnology and organic food purchase. The results are more robust and representative.


Agribusiness, Education, and Communication

Document Type





biotechnology, food safety, organic foods, consumer behaviour, United Kingdom

Publication Date


Journal Title

British Food Journal