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To offer a representation of the organic food choice process based on the findings of this study, a conceptual model was drawn up (Figure 1). The model consists of 4 key constructs (personal attributes, personal context, food values and external influences) that contribute to the factors involved in food choice negotiations.
Food encounters vary according to individual experiences. These experiences are enriched as lifestyle, age and personal needs change over time. Based on experiences shared by participants on their food choice behaviours, the change in food choices based on age and careful considerations due to income capacity was noted in food choice considerations. Though minimal references linking gender types to organic food choice were highlighted, the role that women played as key food choice makers showed its impact on organic food choice. In this study, the following aspects of personal context particularly the identity assumed by participants was noted to influence organic food choices made.
To illustrate the processes involved in organic food choice, factors of influence identified were evaluated for similar effects based on its attributes and the nature of its impact. Common factors were categorised into themes and labelled accordingly. Based on the combined findings obtained from the impact of factors of influence, food choice negotiation patters and organic food perceptions and attitudes, a representation of the organic food choice process was developed. A model depicting the flow of organic food choice was proposed and used to describe the process of organic food choice occurring among Singaporeans.
Choices made regarding organic foods, like other food types are based on attitudes and perceptions held towards it. These form thoughts about organic food that guide interest levels and purchase intention. When considering organic food choices, several factors of influence are known to be involved in the negotiation process. These factors are deliberated at varying levels depending on its associated degree of significance. In identifying the factors of influence involved in organic food choice, themes extracted from participants' conversations were evaluated for common threads and categorised for a better representation of its influence. The following are the thematic groups categorised based on the various factors of influence.
An analysis of motivations for and against organic food choice was conducted through interviews with participants. The interviews offered a deeper understanding of organic food perceptions as participants shared in detail the various considerations and value attachments involved in organic food decision making. The significance of values is apparent as participants frequently focused on selected reasons for interest or lack of interest in organic foods. Value negotiations emerge in the conversations as participants attempt to justify their opinions and judgments on organic food within the local context. This uncovers key values involved in organic food choice considerations and provides the basis for further investigation.
Value negotiations were observed in many participants' food choice considerations. The need to meet demands, fulfill needs and satisfy preferences guided value considerations. Values were re-evaluated for prioritisation to simplify decisions. Lowered expectations held for certain values were also noted in achieving desired outcomes in final decisions.
In the process of food negotiation, several strategies were adopted by participants in their attempts to resolve value conflicts occurring during organic food choice considerations. These strategies involved balancing acts such as irregular purchase or purchase of limited varieties of organic foods and prioritisation of values according to situations.
Based on this study, similar values in conflict were observed among several participants in varying situations. Common values such as affordability, health, food safety and convenience frequently dominated food choice considerations particularly with regards to organic food choice. These common values including others that were invovled in food negotiations among participants were identified as core values responsible for organic food choice considerations.
Various factors of influence impacting organic food choice were described by participants in this interview. The impact of these factors ranged from personal context, product offerings to the effect of external influences. Participants shared on what organic foods offered them, focusing on product attributes and the impact external influences had on their choices.
Perceptions of organic food were also noted as participants describe their opinions and experienced with organic food. Their attitude towards organic food was noted as they shared on the impact of external factors on their decision to purchase organic food. Reasons for interest and disinterest in organic food highlighted participant's attitudes towards organic food choice.
Reasons for interest in organic food revolved around the benefits conferred by the product attributes of organic food. Naturalness, higher nutritive properties and enhanced sensory appeal of organic food were responsible for increased interest in organic products. These attributes also formed the basis for conditional purchase of organic foods for several participants.
The role of participants in life, particularly as family members and parents were seen to play an important part in food choice decision making. The identity adopted in various situations guided the values sought for when considering food choices and organic food was considered based on fulfilling key values such as health and food safety.
For some participants, varying interest levels in organic foods was influenced by external influences such as availability of organic products, accessibility of organic stores, social influences and cost. Interestingly, lack of interest in organic foods was also attributed by similar external influences as well. These were considered under conditional circumstances and weighed based on individual capacity and needs.
The factors of influence identified were deliberated against personal food values held by participants. These food values played significant roles in the considerations made towards organic foods choices. In contemplating the organic food choice, personal food values of food safety, health, appeal, ethical belief, trust, knowledge, relationships, affordability and convenience were used as standards against which organic foods were measured. Measurement of organic food was reflected in the ability to meet individual's needs, family requirements and goals of consumption.
III Food choice negotiations
Scripts related to personal food values and factors of influence were closely examined for occurrences of expectations, comparisons, need fulfillment and balancing acts taking place as people considered organic foods. Using discourse analysis, a thorough examination of selected scripts was conducted to highlight value negotiations occurring as participants weigh their needs against the product offerings of organic food. As participants consider their choices in light of ongoing external influences such as the local food context, resource capacities and social relations, strategies adopted to reach a balanced viewpoint or considered decision are uncovered. These strategies and negotiation patterns offer a clearer understanding of the food choice process involved for organic food products.
Organic food choice decisions are motivated by personal values which are embedded in food experiences encountered in society. These personal food values are formed according to people's beliefs, needs and desires regarding food. These values are negotiated and compromised to produce a balance view that guides the perception and attitude of organic foods. To better understand the process of organic food choice, a closer examination of how personal food values are considered in food choice decisions was conducted. Below are selected comments taken from interview scripts to illustrate the diverse and complex value negotiations that occur in organic food choice considerations.
In the first segment of the interview session, participants were requested to share their experiences and thoughts on their current food habits. They were guided towards thoughts on their food choice behaviours such as types of foods preferred, common habits when choosing for foods, places of purchase and willingness to try new food types. As these were about general foods habits, it facilitated ease of sharing. Understanding food choice habits offers a broader perspective of the food choice considerations of Singaporeans. Participants were then asked to share on noted changes in food habits occurring in across their life.
Food habits and its changes in life revealed factors of importance that influenced food choice decisions. These also offered insight into the personal food values held by participants as organic food choices were contemplated. Food choice behaviours of participants in this study were also evaluated based on their interest levels in organic foods, preference towards food choices and experiences with food. Due to the small number of participants in this study, findings from this analysis reflect some of the food choice behaviours of Singaporeans.
Food choice habits
At the beginning of the interview, participants were requested to share their food buying habits and intention of purchase. Participants shared that food choices made were based on food source reliability, quality products such as freshness, long term storage, tastiness and good looking products. Food choices were also dependent on cooking styles particularly Asian cooking styles and cuisine. Food options revolved around availability of products suitable for the desired cuisine. Most participants mentioned attempting to select for healthy food choices which included more vegetables, whole foods and less processed foods.
With regards to participants purchase intentions, meeting health needs for improvement of current health condition, recovery from illnesses and health prevention purposes were cited as key considerations in food choices made. This was particularly noted among food choices made by participants with children. Food choices were also made based on children's taste interest and needs. Another reason mentioned for interest in health food habits was interest in fitness. Several participants shared on their changes in eating habits based on interest in losing weight, staying fit and alert.
The exposure to information on alternative food choices such as organic food was reported as reasons for changes noted in food choices. Increased availability of information through the local media, health-related magazines and website had raised people's awareness on living a healthy lifestyle. With the ability to make more informed food choice decisions, changes in food selection habits were mentioned.
Past experiences with food was observed to impact interest in food and affected food choices over time. The influence of parents on eating habits was described by some participants as having a lasting effect on their food choices. Some shared on health conscious eating choices encouraged by parents while others mentioned restrictions experienced in food choices made by their parents. Some participants shared on their changes in eating habits as they transited from youth to adulthood. During youth, less attention was paid to health and choices were made to satisfy taste and appetite. With age and higher spending power, more food options were accessible. It was noted among several participants that with age, interest in health awareness was increased hence leading to greater focus on health food options.
Food experiences encountered during interaction with friends and people from various backgrounds were also shared by participants. Some participants shared on their changes in food habits after exposure to alternative food sources such as organic foods during their stay overseas and the influence of interaction with organic food advocates.
Interest in organic foods
Interest levels in organic foods varied among participants for different reasons. Eighty-eight percent of participants interviewed in this study purchased organic foods at least once a year (16 purchased weekly, 20 purchased at least once a year and 5 never purchased organic foods). Participants who were interested in organic foods had positive experiences based on past organic food consumption and trials. Some were motivated by health reasons or were encouraged by friends and family. For others, interest in organic foods was dependent on product appeal, mood, increasing presence of alternative choices. Curiosity and willingness to try new types of food were also attributed to increasing interest in organic food products. Some participants shared that organic food choice had become a lifestyle change and continual interest in organic food as a food habit was maintained through exposure to more information on natural and organic foods.
Those interested in organic food exhibited personalities such as willingness to try new food types and openness to information about alternative food types. Health conscious behaviours, healthy eating choices and willingness to travel in search of healthy food options were also characteristics described by those interested in consuming organic foods.
Lack of interest was noted in 12% of participants who were deterred from purchasing organic foods due to common habits of purchasing certain food types, lack of a compelling reason to spend more on organic foods, large variety of non-organic food options available, absence of interest, minimal understanding of the benefits of organic foods, accessibility and cost issues. Some participants shared that their lack of interest was based on the absence of sufficient data to prove the benefits of organic food promised. Higher cost and limited variety available added to the disinterest experienced.
Those who lack interest in organic foods or never considered organic food options described themselves as not being adventurous in trying new food types and preferred to adhere to habitual food options. Some considered themselves conservative eaters while others were indifferent to new food options due to past food habits.
Food choice behaviours are based on people's habits and interest in food. In this study, participants shared their food habits, experiences and changes observed over time.rephrase Interest in factors related to product attributes, meeting the needs of particular cuisine and health care were some of the key focus of food choice. Fitness care and interest in fulfilling children's needs were also cited as purchase intentions among participants.
External factors that affected changes in eating habits included exposure to information on healthy food choices, increased income capacity and social exchanges on food experiences. Age change was also another factor shared by several participants that impacted food choices made particularly in view of preserving health.
Reasons for interest and disinterest in organic foods reveal to us certain factors which are valued in people's food considerations. Interest in organic foods was seen to be motivated by health consciousness, product appeal and benefits offered by alternative food choices. Issues pertaining to accessibility, cost and lack of sufficient information were cited as reasons for disinterest in organic foods.
Examination of participants' food habits, behaviours and interest in foods reveal key motivation factors that influence food choices. An evaluation of these factors would provide evidence for its significance in food choice particularly towards organic food choice. It also highlights various personal food values sought for in food decisions. In subsequent analysis, a closer investigation of these factors would be conducted as participants share their views on organic foods.
II Factors of influence and perceptions of organic food
In the following segment of the interview, participants were requested to share freely on their thoughts about organic foods including what it means to them and if they considered purchasing organic foods. Participants were asked to share their opinions and their reasons for interest or disinterest in organic food. Common themes related to organic food choice were identified using a combination of conventional and directed analysis methods. Emerging themes from interview scripts were corroborated with findings from similar research on organic food choice. The themes were then evaluated for its relevance in organic food considerations and labelled accordingly under the term 'factors of influence'. These factors are believed to undergird people's organic food choice decisions. Interview scripts related to these factors of influence were extracted and analysed individually for its impact on organic food choice. Using discourse analysis, scripts pertaining to each factor of influence were closely examined for its significance and contribution to organic food choice decisions.
Organic food perceptions and attitudes are formed through various influences including personal experiences with food and external affects through social interactions. The formation of perceptions and attitudes occur over time as people indulge in exposure to more information on food and regular contact with the local food environment. In this study, participants shared their perceptions and attitudes to organic food as they deliberated food choices through their conversations. Their perceptions on organic foods are revealed as they refer to various factors of influence that play a part in their decisions.