Consumer purchasing behaviour for “biodiversity-friendly” vegetable products: the increasing importance of informal relationships

The consumer’s central role within biodiversity conservation networks may be connected to the process of reconnecting models of production and proven local consumption within “alternative food networks” that have the ability to conserve biodiversity and create sustainable production. This research focuses of the indirect relationships between consumers of biodiversity-friendly vegetable crops surveyed at the main farmers’ markets in Sicily, revealing details of purchasing behaviour and the factors related to product choice using social network analysis (SNA) to analyse the social relationships. The research highlights the consumer preferences for local produce or areas with an identity connection or an ethical-social affinity, as shown by the convergence of themes such as “territorial promotion” and “Sicilian quality”. This result confirms the role of low-volume producers and local communities in protecting biodiversity-friendly farming and renewing their importance in policy-making. Different consumers highlighted how important it is to design more effective measures to maintain and increase ecosystem resilience. Future development in this area will need to include empirical research on defining the motivations that induce consumers to collaborate with producers in the co-creation of values and anticipating the willingness of consumers to be more pro-active and participatory with biodiversity-friendly farmers in managing their relationships.

© 2019 Czech Academy of Agricultural Sciences