Tradition as the New Alternative: Organic Food Consumption and Food Related Lifestyle in China

su Chang, Paul Haynes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For European and North American consumers, organic food is typically conceived of as a healthy, ethical and environmental alternative to intensively farmed food. This is unsurprising as it is generally promoted through narratives of sustainable consumption, ethical farming and bodily well being. Such narratives have had some traction where food marketing strategies are designed to reflect ethical and environmental concerns and values found within these societies. China is a huge potential market for organic and other alternative foods, particularly when considering increased per capita disposable income, a growing middle class, new and emerging cultural values of consumption, coupled with the continuing importance of formal food rituals, many of which have a long heritage and great significance in Chinese society. This paper will examine attitudes and perceptions towards organic food within China. Using a tailored Food-Related Lifestyle instrument to observe deeper consumer values, the research found that unlike the established markets for organic food (Europe, North America; Australasia) where ethical, environmental, alternative lifestyle and health concern narratives are typically relied upon to promote organic food consumption, traditional values and standards (Freshness; Traditional Sense of Family; Value Relations; Security; and, Self-fulfilment) presented the most compelling promotional narratives. In this regard, organic food consumption in China represents alternative food consumption, not as an alternative to traditional food production, but as an alternative to recent food production and processing trends perceived of in negative terms, a perception with important implications for policy makers and marketing managers engaged in the food sector in China.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages48
Issue number56
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2017

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