In the last few years, the market of organically grown products (OGPs) has continued to grow due to speculated concerns for the environment, food safety and health issues. The market for OGPs in South Africa appears to be under threat; with their demand outstripping their supply. In light of this background, there are relatively few studies on the consumer purchase intentions of OGPs in South Africa, and thus, less understanding about its demand market drivers. The purpose of this paper is to identify the factors influencing the purchase intentions of OGPs (fruits and vegetables) in Shelly Centre in Port Shepstone in Kwa-Zulu Natal Province of South Africa. Using a quantitative descriptive cross-sectional research design, a hundred and fifty (150) OGP consumers were selected through a systematic random sampling technique from three accredited OGP retail outlets namely Pick n' Pay, Spar and Woolworths. Generally, descriptive results show that the interviewed consumers in Shelly Centre were reasonably educated and knowledgeable about OGPs. A higher proportion of the interviewed consumers in Shelly Centre consisted of women, employed and not of African descendant (ethnic group) consumers. Most were confident that OGPs are environmentally friendly, safe, high-quality products, and have a better taste compared to conventionally grown food products. A somewhat fair proportion expressed mixed feelings concerning the belief that OGPs are priced higher, their appeal to nature (smell), and their willingness to purchase OGPs regardless of price. Nonetheless, most were adamant that OGPs are difficult to find on the market. A multiple regression model analysis results reveal that consumer demographics; ethnicity (not of African descent) (p < 0.001), and monthly household income (p < 0.05) are statistically significant and positively influence the consumer purchase intentions of OGPs in Shelly Centre. Conversely, consumer perceptions that OGPs are priced higher (p < 0.05), have a better taste and of quality (p < 0.001), and the difficulty to find on the market (p < 0.001) are statistically significant and negatively influence the consumer purchase intentions of OGPs in Shelly Centre. The findings of this paper stress the need to design strategies and elements (marketing mix) to make OGPs affordable and readily available to consumers. Likewise, consumers from all ethnic groups and income levels need to be conscious of the environmental and health benefits of OGPs to make informed purchase decisions. To promote the purchase of OGPs; from a policy perspective, the government can offer support such as a consumer price subsidy to make OGPs affordable, and the provision of effective regulations and certification around the marketing of OGPs.
Keywords: Shelly Centre; multiple regression model; organically grown products; perceptions; purchase intentions.