The value of the participation in Solidarity Purchasing Groups (SPGs): an empirical analysis in Piedmont
Keywordsethical purchasing groups
alternative food networks
Agricultural and Food Policy
Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety
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AbstractSolidarity purchasing groups (SPGs) are common Alternative Food Networks in many towns in Italy. They are set up by groups of citizens who cooperate in order to buy food and other commonly used goods collectively and directly from producers, at a price that is fair to both parties. Within the group, the choice of the products and the farmers usually follow some guidelines related to the respect for the environment and the solidarity between the members of the group and the producers. Though still a small niche, SPGs are quite numerous and represent an interesting alternative to traditional setting of the food chain. The main motivation of members for participating in SPGs is arguably not a monetary one, i.e., it is not lower prices. Ethical motivations and environmental concerns are typically proposed among the goals of the groups. Nevertheless, the budget constraint is always operating, and it is of interest to measure how much the ethical and environmental motivations are able to overcome the budget constraint. This is tantamount to measure the value members attach to their participation to the SPG. Hence, the aim of this study was to estimate the value the group members attach to their participation. A stated preferences methodology was employed on a first sample of members of SPGs in Torino (Italy) and other neighbouring towns to estimate the value consumers buying in such groups attach to this particular channel, in comparison to the conventional supermarkets. Preliminary results show that SPG members do state a preference for buying with their organization rather than at a supermarket’s even when the prospected prices are substantially higher for the purchase through the SPG.