Consumer willingness to pay for plant-based foods produced using microbial applications to replace synthetic chemical inputs

Beshir M. Ali*, Frederic Ang, H.J. van der Fels-Klerx

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Analysis of consumer preferences and willingness-to-pay (WTP) for sustainable foods produced using new agri-food technologies is required to enhance the uptake of innovations that accelerate the transition towards sustainable food systems. Consumers' willingness to buy new food products, with no or limited consumption experience, mainly depends on their food choice motivational orientations (promotion- vs prevention-orientation). The objective of this study was to elicit consumers' WTP for foods that are produced with microbial applications during the plant production phase with the aim to reduce the use of synthetic chemicals in crop farming, as well as to understand the associations of food choice motives, personal and socio-demographic factors with the WTP. We used contingent valuation to elicit consumers' WTP for three food products (wheat bread, consumer potatoes and tomato sauce) through online surveys. Data were collected from 291 consumers, primarily from Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. Descriptive statistics, latent variable modelling and logistic regression were used to analysis data. Results show that more than two-third of the respondents are willing to pay premiums of at least 0.11 euro per kg of food products for reductions in synthetic chemical use by at least 50% due to microbial applications. The amount of WTP increases with the level of reductions in synthetic chemical use. The majority of the respondents are promotion-oriented consumers in relation to their food involvement, and are more likely to pay premiums for the sustainably produced food products. Environmentally concerned consumers are also more likely to pay premiums, whereas health concerned consumers are not. This study contributes to understanding of consumers' attitude and perceived health risks towards foods obtained using microbial applications, and the heterogeneity of their preferences. Results provide insights for identifying potential buyers of foods produced using microbial applications, and to set prices according to the levels of consumers' WTP.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0260488
JournalPLoS ONE
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2021


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