How does the knowledge of Swiss consumers on palm oil affects consumption patterns?

Abbondioli, Estelle ; Depetris Chauvin, Nicolas (Dir.)

Mémoire de bachelor : Haute école de gestion de Genève, 2018 ; TDIBM 29.

Palm oil is the most produced vegetable oil and accounts for 30% of the global vegetable oil production. This significant production generates negative externalities such as contributing to climate change, deforestation of the rainforests and biodiversity loss. However, this vegetable oil holds many advantages as well, such as having the highest agricultural yield, creating jobs and wealth for... Plus

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    Summary
    Palm oil is the most produced vegetable oil and accounts for 30% of the global vegetable oil production. This significant production generates negative externalities such as contributing to climate change, deforestation of the rainforests and biodiversity loss. However, this vegetable oil holds many advantages as well, such as having the highest agricultural yield, creating jobs and wealth for millions of people, and having unique exploitable characteristics. The non-governmental organizations WWF and Greenpeace support the use of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) to reduce the negative externalities linked to the production of palm oil to the minimum. Consumers in developed countries such as Switzerland only experience these negative externalities indirectly. Hence, it is important to know whether consumers are aware of these global issues. Their knowledge and perception on palm oil may influence their purchasing decisions. The objective of this research is to make recommendations on how to influence the knowledge on palm oil of Swiss consumers such that they make the right decision, according to the NGOs, of choosing certified sustainable palm oil. The research methods include data collection through an online survey, answers’ analysis with regressions analyses, contingency tables and comparisons between respondents with different levels of knowledge and with different demographic and perception characteristics. The results of the data analysed show that the consumers’ level of knowledge on palm oil has a low impact on consumers’ consumption patterns. Only one variable is decisive, the health benefits of palm oil. The more the consumers deem palm oil as being healthy the more they favour certified sustainable palm oil in their choices. The results also show that the more the respondents give importance to the issues related to the production of palm oil, such as climate change, deforestation, and so on, the less they favour certified sustainable palm oil in their choices. The recommendations are to first promote the health benefits of consuming palm oil in small quantity so that consumers would feel comfortable consuming it. Second, to develop and promote the existing sustainable certification schemes for the production of palm oil. The goal is to increase the trust of customers towards this option so that they would understand that it is a viable option to tackle the issues related to the production of palm oil. These two actions should help consumers to understand the benefits of certified sustainable palm oil and empower them to make better consumption decisions.