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Completed project

Enhancing market attitudes towards IPM and sustainable vegetable production practices (VG12084)

Key research provider: Applied Horticultural Research
Publication date: Friday, June 20, 2014

What was it all about?

Studies in Australia and overseas have found that consumers say they care about environmental issues and are willing to pay more for sustainably grown produce. This bodes well for vegetable growers using fewer chemicals as a result of integrated pest management on farms, and raises the possibility of badging such produce with an eco label.

This project investigated the attitudes of grocery buyers to farming and the environment, including understandings of integrated pest management and attitudes to insects found with fresh produce.

The team ran focus groups and an online survey of more than 1000 people.

Key findings included…

  • Many consumers had never thought about where vegetables come from, how they are grown, or what a vegetable farms are like
  • More than 40 per cent of respondents said they were willing to pay more for products certified environmentally sustainable
  • People willing to pay more for an eco-labelled product were those who liked vegetables and ate plenty of them, those who said they purchase free range eggs, had higher incomes and an interest in gardening
  • Consumers don’t tend to understand organic production well, even those who purchase organic food
  • Consumers reported good tolerance of low numbers of small bugs on loose vegetables, though tolerance is reduced with:

o      Produce from supermarkets

o      Produce in sealed packages

o      Produce already washed or processed

o      Soft-bodied insects like caterpillars or snails

o      No exposure to vegetable production, farming or home vegetable gardening

  • When the use of beneficial insects to control pests was explained to people in focus groups, tolerance for the presence of insects was greater.

In response to these social research findings, the team developed three short videos featuring growers explaining the use of beneficial insects to control pests on vegetables, for a consumer audience. They also conveyed the message that finding an insect with purchased vegetables shows that it has been “grown naturally”.


Watch the consumer-facing vegetable IPM videos:

Related levy funds


Funding statement:
This project has been funded by Hort Innovation

Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2014. The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).