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The number of consumers who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet and people who purchase organic food is increasing worldwide. The labelling of food products with a vegan label only refers to the ingredients, not to the production method. Therefore, animal products e.g. slurry, meal pellets and animal by-products can be used in the chain of agricultural production. A new biocyclic-vegan label, which refers to an exclusion of any animal by-product during production, was introduced in Germany in 2017. The product life cycle consists of five stages. The production method of biocyclic-vegan agricultural products is a new approach. Therefore, very little is known about consumer awareness of these products. As a result, this study is of an exploratory nature and investigates which needs biocyclic-vegan products can satisfy and which additional values these products offer in comparison to organic products. As little is known about the biocyclic-vegan production method, telephone interviews involving six experts and six vegetarian/vegan consumers from Germany were carried out. The interviews took place in January 2018. The consumer convenience sample was selected based on age, gender and profession while the experts were selected based on their expertise. On average the interviews lasted 20 minutes. The interviews consisted of 20 questions. Both, consumers and experts were included to gain knowledge from each perspective. The three key results are that most interviewees knew about biocyclic-vegan production and were able to explain the meaning. Another major result is that consumers mention that the purchase reason is to support the idea of biocyclic-vegan agriculture while experts name ethical reasons as a main purchase reason. The third key result is that the barriers of purchasing the products are the price, lack of knowledge and credibility. As this is an explorative study, further research is needed e.g. more in-depth interviews consisting of a larger sample size and a more diverse sample including consumers following different diets such as flexitarians. Moreover quantitative approaches would give valuable insights into the topic.
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GJAE 68 (2019), Number 4
289
Marketing Potential for Biocyclic-Vegan Products?
A Qualitative, Explorative Study with Experts and Consumers
Kristin Jürkenbeck, Lara Schleicher and Stephan G.H. Meyerding
University of Goettingen, Goettingen
Abstract
The number of consumers who follow a vegetarian or
vegan diet and people who purchase organic food is
increasing worldwide. The labelling of food products
with a vegan label only refers to the ingredients, not
to the production method. Therefore, animal products
e.g. slurry, meal pellets and animal by-products can
be used in the chain of agricultural production. A new
biocyclic-vegan label, which refers to an exclusion of
any animal by-product during production, was intro-
duced in Germany in 2017. The product life cycle
consists of five stages. The production method of bio-
cyclic-vegan agricultural products is a new approach.
Therefore, very little is known about consumer
awareness of these products. As a result, this study is
of an exploratory nature and investigates which needs
biocyclic-vegan products can satisfy and which addi-
tional values these products offer in comparison to
organic products. As little is known about the biocy-
clic-vegan production method, telephone interviews
involving six experts and six vegetarian/vegan con-
sumers from Germany were carried out. The inter-
views took place in January 2018. The consumer con-
venience sample was selected based on age, gender
and profession while the experts were selected based
on their expertise. On average the interviews lasted
20 minutes. The interviews consisted of 20 questions.
Both, consumers and experts were included to gain
knowledge from each perspective. The three key re-
sults are that most interviewees knew about biocyclic-
vegan production and were able to explain the mean-
ing. Another major result is that consumers mention
that the purchase reason is to support the idea of bio-
cyclic-vegan agriculture while experts name ethical
reasons as a main purchase reason. The third key
result is that the barriers of purchasing the products
are the price, lack of knowledge and credibility. As
this is an explorative study, further research is needed
e.g. more in-depth interviews consisting of a larger
sample size and a more diverse sample including con-
sumers following different diets such as flexitarians.
Moreover quantitative approaches would give valua-
ble insights into the topic.
Key Words
animal by-product; food choice; agricultural produc-
tion method; livestock exclusion; stockfree; veganic;
stockless; vegan organic
1 Introduction
Food consumption accounts for 20% to 30% of indi-
viduals environmental impact (TUKKER and JANSEN,
2006). Consumer awareness of their own influence
through their diet on environmental problems is low
(HARTMANN and SIEGRIST, 2017). It is important to
communicate sustainable-related information of food
to the consumer to make them aware of their own
influence. One means of increasing awareness is la-
belling, which focuses on sustainable information
such as fair trade, rainforest alliance and animal wel-
fare. Consuming organic products or following a ve-
gan diet are two ways for consumers to reduce the
environmental impact of their diet. The influence of
an organic vegan diet has the smallest negative impact
on the environment according to a life cycle assess-
ment (BARONI et al., 2007). In Germany, biocyclic-
vegan production method is emerging. It is a combi-
nation of organic agriculture and stock-free agricul-
ture, with special emphasis on the cycle of nutrients in
the soil. This means that it is necessary when using
resources to provide compensation in exchange, in
order to get unlimited availability of these resources.
From a marketing perspective, the attributes of
organic as well as vegan of food products are attrib-
utes which are based on trust (credence products)
because the consumer cannot prove these attributes.
Often such attributes are communicated through food
labels. On the one hand food labels are an easily rec-
ognisable concept for consumers. On the other hand,
due to the increasing number of labels, there are dis-
cussions about whether labels help consumers in their
decision-making or confuse them (OSEI et al., 2012;
COWBURN and STOCKLEY, 2005). The German organ-
ic label is only allowed to be placed on a product if
the company is certified. Therefore, quality standards
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GJAE 68 (2019), Number 4
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are comparable between products with the same
organic label. The vegan label often refers to the in-
gredients of the products and does not include the
production method. This means that vegan-labelled
products are only free of animal ingredients according
to the list of ingredients. Therefore, it is possible that,
for example, a ready-to-eat pumpkin soup is sold with
a vegan label but during production the pumpkin was
treated with animal fertiliser. One challenge is that the
term vegan is not legally defined. As many vegans
follow a plant-based diet not for health reasons, but
for ethical reasons, they reject the keeping and use of
livestock (JANSSEN et al., 2016).
Labelling of vegan-grown products is possible
for the first time in Germany with the biocyclic-vegan
label. The label exists in other countries such as
France, Switzerland, Greece, Cyprus and the Nether-
lands. The biocyclic-vegan label combines the ecolog-
ical production method with special emphasis on the
nutrient cycle and the entire exclusion of livestock
from the whole supply chain. This means that the
keeping of farm animals and the use of animal prod-
ucts is completely excluded (BIOZYKLISCH-VEGANER
ANBAU E.V., 2018a). The label was introduced in
October 2017 in Germany. In June 2018, there were
two certified farmers in Germany and one online shop
supplying such products. One farmer was certified in
France and in Greece and Cyprus approximately 80
famers were certified.
Much research has focused on the motivation for
buying organic products (PADEL and FOSTER, 2005;
ZANOLI and NASPETTI, 2002; NASIR and KARAKAYA,
2014). One study analysed the motivation for follow-
ing a vegan diet (JANSSEN et al., 2016) and another
study analysed the potential of vegan organic agricul-
ture (SCHMUTZ and FORESI, 2017).
Biocyclic-vegan agriculture is in the very early
stage of the product life cycle in Europe. Therefore, not
much research has been undertaken and little is known
about it. In 2014, there were zero results on web of
science for the term “stockfree organic” (HAGEMANN
and POTTHAST, 2015). In 2018, there were still zero
results for this term, but when using “stockless organic”
there were 14 results, for “vegan organic” 22 results
and for “veganic” zero results. When using the term
biocyclic-vegan, there were no academic results from
science websites. Therefore, this study is of an explora-
tive nature with the aim of improving understanding of
the marketing potential of biocyclic-vegan agriculture.
We conducted a qualitative study consisting of 12 tele-
phone interviews of six experts and six consumers.
This study can lead to recommendations on how to
improve the effectiveness of biocyclic-vegan labels,
as well as providing advice on marketing.
2 Theoretical Background
2.1 Origin and Principals of
Biocyclic-Vegan Agriculture
The development of the idea of biocyclic-vegan agri-
culture goes back to the German organic pioneer,
Adolf Hoops. As early as the 1950s, he showed on his
farm in north Germany how nature's self-healing pow-
ers can be specifically promoted when building healthy
humus cycles (BIOCYCLIC NETWORK SERVICES,
2018b). Since biocyclic agriculture is based on a vegan
approach, this was finally developed in cooperation
with vegan consumer initiatives, producers and agri-
cultural experts, and the further development of the
Biocyclic guidelines to the Biocyclic-vegan guide-
lines” (BIOZYKLISCH-VEGANER ANBAU E.V., 2018c;
BIOCYCLIC NETWORK SERVICES, 2018a). In 2016, the
producer association Biocyclic-vegan cultivation
was founded. Its task is to support the promotion of
biocyclic-vegan agriculture and to support and advise
organic farmers. The biocyclic-vegan label can be used
on product packaging by certified companies. The
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Move-
ments - Organics International (IFOAM Organics In-
ternational) has produced biocyclic-vegan guidelines
which have been recognised as the first international
vegan organic standard since 2017 (BIOZYKLISCH-
VEGANER ANBAU E.V., 2018c).
The principal of biocyclic-vegan cultivation,
meaning the land cultivation under exclusion of ani-
mal husbandry, is a relatively new approach in organ-
ic farming in Germany. According to the principles of
organic farming, the use of synthetic fertilisers, pesti-
cides and genetically modified organisms is prohibit-
ed. Under European regulations, the use of horn meal,
blood meal and composted manure from conventional
livestock husbandry is allowed in organic agriculture.
With biocyclic-vegan production, this is prohibited. In
addition, biocyclic-vegan land management is sup-
ported by a sustainable and closed production method.
The aim of the biocyclic idea is the conversation or
the rehabilitation of healthy cycles of life (BIOCYCLIC
NETWORK SERVICES, 2017). This means that there is
compensation for the resources used in order to ensure
the availability of resources in the future. The applica-
tion of ripe vegetable compost substrate plays a cen-
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GJAE 68 (2019), Number 4
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tral role besides the regular supply of organic matter
from legume cultivation, mulching and area compost-
ing in the maintenance and development of soil fertili-
ty. In this way, the natural production bases are se-
cured in the long term. This is in line with the idea of
a closed-loop approach.
Conservation of resources and the promotion of
biodiversity are part of the biocyclic-vegan farming
idea. In addition, decentralised structures and largely
regional production and marketing are aimed for (BIO-
ZYKLISCH-VEGANER ANBAU E.V., 2018b; BIOCYCLIC
NETWORK SERVICES LTD., 2017). The principle of
vegan cultivation can be distinguished from livestock-
free agriculture. Livestock-free agriculture is charac-
terised by less than 0.2 livestock units per hectare. In
addition, these farms have no significant cooperation
with livestock farmers. However, the use of animal
inputs in the form of organic commercial fertilisers,
such as hair meal pellets is not excluded (SCHMIDT,
2003). Biocyclic-vegan agriculture, on the other hand,
strives for complete exclusion of animal products.
Nonetheless, the move towards vegan farming by
livestock-free farmers is relatively small. The share of
livestock-free organic farms in Germany is around 25
percent with a tendency to rise (SCHULZ et al., 2013).
Accordingly, the potential of biocyclic-vegan agricul-
ture is certainly given.
2.2 Biocyclic-Vegan Label
German, Austrian and Swiss producers who operate
in accordance with the biocyclic-vegan guidelines
described in Chapter 2.1 and who meet the require-
ments have been able to label their products with the
corresponding biocyclic-vegan label (Figure 1) since
2016. It is possible to label their organic products with
an additional organic label (BIOZYKLISCH-VEGANER
ANBAU E.V., 2018d). Such labelling enables them to
communicate their organic and vegan production
methods to consumers and thus gives them the oppor-
tunity to distinguish themselves on the market. Since
these product characteristics cannot be checked by the
consumer, either before or after purchase, such prod-
ucts are referred to as credence goods. Along the
value chain, these foods have an information asym-
metry from production to the end consumer (AKER-
LOF, 1970; VOERSTE, 2009). This is remedied by an
independent control of the production process (JAHN
et al., 2005). In order to ensure the quality of the label,
biocyclic-vegan producing farms undergo an audit
by independent inspection and a certification body
(BIOZYKLISCH-VEGANER ANBAU E.V., 2018d).
Figure 1. Biocyclic-vegan label
Source: BIOCYCLIC-NETWORK SERVICES (2018)
3 Material and Methods
3.1 Data Collection and Survey Design
The study follows a qualitative research approach and
is of explorative nature. Qualitative research allows an
in-depth exploration of new research topics. An ad-
vantage of this method is that an open and personal
exchange of thoughts and views within a pleasant
discussion is possible. This enables the researcher to
interact during the interview in participants individual
decision-making process (LAMNEK and KRELL, 2010).
Twelve guideline-based telephone interviews consist-
ing of 20 questions were conducted across Germany
in January 2018. The interviews varied between 15
and 40 minutes depending on how detailed respond-
ents answered the questions. On average the interview
length was 20 minutes. The convenience samples of
consumers were selected based on their age, profes-
sion and gender. We tried to achieve a diverse distri-
bution of these characteristics in order to get a broader
perspective of consumers. The experts were selected
on the basis of two criteria: they had to be related to
either organic farming or veganism. The six consum-
ers consisted of five consumers following a vegan diet
and one vegetarian, while the selection of the six ex-
perts was based on their profession and knowledge
about the topic, rather than their own dietary behav-
iour. Interviews allow participants to talk about their
own perception and their experience. (HSIEH and
SHANNON, 2005) The interviews were divided into
two parts: first, participants were asked to introduce
themselves and their connection to organic agricul-
ture. Second, they were asked questions about organic
and vegan products. Afterwards, a short text explain-
ing the meaning of biocyclic-vegan production was
provided to ensure common understanding. Lastly,
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GJAE 68 (2019), Number 4
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more specific open questions about biocyclic-vegan
products were asked. The interview guidelines were
discussed and tested by experts.
3.2 Data Analysis
In a first step, the telephone interviews were audio-
recorded and, in a second step, transcribed. After-
wards, a qualitative content analysis, based on
KUCKARTZ (2016) was undertaken. The qualitative
data analysis was conducted using MAXQDA soft-
ware. In a first step, deductive categories were built
based on the interview guidelines and the research
question. Afterwards, inductive subcategories were
formed in order to have a methodical mixed form of a
deductive-inductive formation (KUCKARTZ, 2016).
The aim was to compress the available material into
essential content (STRÜBING, 2013).
4 Results
4.1 Knowledge about Organic and
Vegan Agriculture
In the first part of the interview, consumers and ex-
perts were asked to state the advantages and disad-
vantages of stock-free agriculture. All consumers re-
ported ethical reasons, such as animal welfare, and
environmental problems, like the advantage of stock-
free agriculture. In comparison, the experts stated eco-
logical reasons, including environmental and climate
aspects. For five out of six experts, ethical reasons
played a major role. Additionally, the experts own
health, as well as social aspects like feeding the world,
were important. Only one consumer said that growing
up with the kitschy view of traditional farming might
be a disadvantage, while the experts mentioned the
nutrition cycle, using farm land which cannot be used
in another way and the nutritional value of meat (e.g.
vitamin B12 and iron).
Furthermore, consumers and experts considered
that organic products meet consumer needs in terms of
environmental aspects and health aspects, especially
non-toxic food due to no use of pesticides during cul-
tivation. In the expert’s opinion, consumers purchase
organic products because they had a good conscience,
better working conditions for the farmers, improved
taste and global equity.
Most consumers knew the biocyclic-vegan label
and could explain the specifications of it. Even the
consumers who did not know the label could explain
its meaning. Most experts had heard about the bio-
cyclic-vegan label before and all could explain it. The
explanations given varied from basic to very specific.
4.2 Perceived Added Value and Credibility
of Biocyclic-Vegan Production
Half of the consumers saw the reduction of environ-
mental problems, like over-fertilisation, as an added
value of organic products. Furthermore, ethical rea-
sons (animal welfare) and health (contamination by
hormones and drugs) were important drivers. Some
consumers reported taste and living in harmony with
nature to be a plus. Experts reported ethical reasons to
be an added value and half of them thought that the
closed-loop approach was particularly important. Eco-
logical aspects (e.g. greenhouse emissions) seemed to
be essential as well.
In order to ensure the credibility of biocyclic-vegan
products, consumers and experts thought certification
could help if monitoring is applied. For consumers,
using sustainable packaging such as paper wrapping
was important to ensure credibility. Both thought that
transparency in the production process (e.g. offering
open door days where consumers can take a look behind
the scenes) were advisable. Lastly, consumers men-
tioned that showing videos of a look behind the scenes
on the internet could improve credibility. According
to experts, personalisation of the farmers was key.
4.3 Purchasing Behaviour
There are different purchase motives for biocyclic-
vegan products. One consumer motive is to support
the idea of biocyclic-vegan agriculture. Other motives
are their own health, the environment, as well as
healthy food without any chemical residues. From an
expert point of view, ethical reasons are most im-
portant, followed by health and environmental as-
pects. Only experts mentioned ethical reasons; this
might be due to the fact that five of six consumers
who were involved followed a vegan diet. Moreover,
experts thought that closeness to nature, general critics
of consumption and originality (meaning doing some-
thing else than everyone else does) could enhance
purchase. According to consumers and experts, the
price could be a barrier of purchasing. Consumers
thought that the rejection of a vegan way of life could
play a role as well. Both cited ignorance of the bio-
cyclic-vegan concept. In terms of purchase barriers,
consumers and experts concurred. According to con-
sumers and experts points of view, consumers who
follow a vegan diet are the main target group of such
products. Moreover, experts believed that consumers
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with a different diet were important, especially vege-
tarian and flexitarian, as well as consumers who pur-
chased organic food.
4.4 Marketing Mix
In the opinion of consumers, the point-of-sale is the
place where necessary information about the speciality
of the product should be given. Other important com-
munication channels are magazines, e.g. free maga-
zines in organic stores. Consumers and experts agreed
that the internet is key. Both mentioned social media
as an effective communication platform. In particular,
consumers considered that Facebook groups (e.g. ve-
gan groups) were important to promote biocyclic-
vegan products. Additionally, consumers suggested
using flyers and offering guided farm tours to provide
background knowledge. The experts did not advise to
use television as a communication channel.
After deciding which communication channel
to use, it is important to decide how to communicate
product features. Half of the consumers suggested
using pictures of livestock farming and production
of meal pellets and horn meal as a deterrent on prod-
uct packaging like cigarette warning labels. More-
over, focusing on the advantage of organic products
and showing documentations about the biocyclic-
vegan concept might be helpful. Experts suggested that
giving talks about the topic will educate-consumers.
Moreover, giving consumers the possibility to join the
production cycle give the farmers the chance to ex-
plain the product features in detail. The experts agreed
with the idea of using consumers as influencers to
communicate the added value of organic production
of the products.
According to consumers, organic shops are im-
portant for selling biocyclic-vegan products. In addi-
tion, direct sales, such as farm shops and weekly mar-
kets, are important according to the consumers and
experts point of view. Consumers also mentioned
supermarkets and delivery services, while the experts
suggested selling via the internet or through wholesal-
ers. Half of the experts viewed that the products could
be sold through all distribution channels.
When discussing the image of discounters, the
majority of consumers and experts agree that selling
biocyclic-vegan products in discounters is not harmful
for product quality. One consumer and one expert
considered this to be harmful.
Moreover, half of the consumers stated that they
were willing to pay higher prices for biocyclic-vegan
products than for organic products. In comparison,
experts stated that their willingness to pay for biocy-
clic-vegan products is greater than for organic prod-
ucts. Two experts stated that they were not in a posi-
tion to assess consumers willingness to pay.
Figure 2 summarises the main results of the qual-
itative interviews.
Figure 2. Summary of the main results
Source: authors presentation
Knowledge
Biocyclic-vegan
production was
known by most
All could explain the
difference to organic
farming
Added-Value
Reduction of
environmental issues
Greenhouse
emissions
Ethical reasons
Exclusion of
livestock in whole
production chain
Health aspects
Residues in food
e.g. antibiotics,
other drugs
Purchase
behaviour
Target group
Vegans
Vegetarians
Flexitarians
Organic purchasers
Barriers:
Price
Lack of knowedge
Credibility
Motives
Support the idea
Ethical reasons
Health
Environmental
aspects
Marketing-mix
Price
Price premium
possible
Place
Direct sales
Organic stores
Online shops
Promotion
Communication
through social
media
Information at the
PoS
Explain background
information
Visiting farmers
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5 Discussion
5.1 Knowledge about Organic and
Vegan Agriculture
In the case of consumers, ethical reasons were the
main advantage of stock-free agriculture, while experts
mentioned ecological advantages first. This difference
might be due consumers following a meat-free diet
while experts were meat-eaters. As the consumers
followed a vegan or vegetarian diet, they might be
more aware of animal welfare aspects than the experts.
The interviewees highlighted aspects of environ-
mental protection, health and taste, as well as social
aspects as motives for purchasing common organic
products. The ethical aspect played a important role
for consumers which may be due to the fact that the
consumers surveyed generally rejected farm animal
husbandry because of their vegan lifestyle. The results
correspond to those of previous studies. They showed
that a person’s own health was the most important
incentive for buying organic food, followed by ethical
reasons, environmental aspects and taste. Social as-
pects also played a role (AERTSENS et al., 2009; AL-
VENSLEBEN, 2001; CHINNICI et al., 2002; HUGHNER
et al., 2007; VERMA, 2015)
Biocyclic-vegan foods are organic products
which are produced following the biocyclic-vegan
guidelines which adhere to the principles of organic
farming. Accordingly, similar purchasing motives can
be identified for these foods as for other organic prod-
ucts, including efforts to avoid environmental prob-
lems and the desire to eat healthily.
5.2 Perceived Added Value of
Biocyclic-Vegan Production
Firstly, the consistent exclusion of livestock in the
whole supply chain can be defined as the unique sell-
ing proposition of biocyclic-vegan food. This aspect
has been highlighted several times by the consumers
and experts. This results in an animal-ethical added
value to organic food, in which animal products are
used in production and fertilisation. It should not be
forgotten that the animal welfare aspect is a purchas-
ing motive for organic products, but this consumer
need is often not sufficiently covered, since abuses
occur in organic animal husbandry as well as in con-
ventional husbandry (BONDE and SØRENSEN, 2004;
BRINKMANN and WINCKLER, 2005; RAHMANN et al.,
2005; SIMONEIT et al., 2012). The standards in organ-
ic- and conventional husbandry are different and the
organic husbandry is tighter policed and legally regu-
lated. There are annual inspections and spot inspec-
tions all across Europe.
Second, environmental aspects play a major role
too. The interviewees, especially the experts, concre-
tise this added value of environmental aspects in the
reduction or avoidance of greenhouse emissions and
the pollution of soil and water by over fertilisation.
There are numerous studies that support the inter-
viewees' statements regarding the negative effects of
livestock farming and the use of animal inputs on the
environment (EHUI et al., 1998; UNTERSCHULTZ and
JEFFREY, 2001; STEINFELD, 2010; MENZI et al., 2010;
MINASE et al., 2015). Thirdly, the closed-loop ap-
proach can be seen as an important added value to
organic products. In organic farming, animal fertiliser
is often purchased from external sources, including
conventional farming, as other studies have shown
(MÖLLER and SCHULTHEIß, 2014; DEUMLICH et al.,
2016). This is prohibited in biocyclic-vegan agricul-
ture; instead the use of plant-based compost plays an
important role. Its capacity to increase soil fertility
and biological activity of the soil is proven (RIWANDI
et al., 2014; HÄGE et al., 1996; SCHERER et al., 2008).
The entire exclusion of animal inputs also adds health
value to biocyclic-vegan foods in comparison to other
organic products. The interviewees describe this in
terms of preventing the contamination of food by
hormones and drugs as well as resistant germs. This
finding is consistent with the literature which reports
that transfer of veterinary medicinal products into the
environment and the plants is possible (KUMAR et al.,
2005; MARTI et al., 2013).
5.3 Purchasing Behaviour
First, it can be said that the main motives for buying
biocyclic-vegan foods are ethics, health and environ-
ment, which coincide with the motives for choosing a
vegan lifestyle (GRUBE, 2009). According to JANSSEN
et al. (2016) the ethical aspect comes first, even if
several motives usually come together. The majority
of respondents also put the ethical aspect first as a
motive for buying biocyclic-vegan food. Accordingly,
experts and consumers identified vegan consumers as
the main target group for biocyclic-vegan foods, as
the complete exclusion of farm animals has the high-
est relevance for them. At the same time, it is quite
conceivable that biocyclic-vegan products could be of
interest to other buyer groups. The motives to follow a
flexitarian diet are mainly health and ethical aspects
(RAPHAELY and MARINOVA, 2014). Because of that,
flexitarians might be interested in biocyclic-vegan
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GJAE 68 (2019), Number 4
295
food products which fulfil these needs. Moreover,
earlier studies found out that a vegan diet has the low-
est environmental impact. (BARONI et al., 2007)
Therefore, consumers who place high value on eco-
logical aspects might consider biocyclic-vegan prod-
ucts when purchasing groceries.
Both experts and consumers specified the same
purchase barriers. The price is an aspect that can lead
to non-purchase, especially in connection with the
non-recognition of the added value of the products
(PADEL and FOSTER, 2005). Another reason to avoid
purchasing biocyclic-vegan products could be the
rejection of a vegan diet. One explanation for the re-
jection could be neophobia (LOGUE, 2004). Moreover,
some consumers have the opinion that a vegan diet is
absurd, as eating animals is appropriate (JOY, 2011).
5.4 Marketing Mix
Respondents rated product labelling positively using
the biocyclic-vegan label. Other studies have also
considered the labelling of foods to communicate
certain quality, as well as product characteristics de-
manded by consumers (CASWELL and PADBERG,
1992; MCCLUSKEY and LAUREIRO, 2013).
However, further communication measures are
necessary, as biocyclic-vegan agriculture is at a very
early stage of the product lifecycle and the conse-
quences of the exclusion of livestock are not yet
known by everyone. Accordingly, clarification of bio-
cyclic-vegan agriculture is required through effective
communication. In addition to printed media, lectures
and information at the point of sale can help, and con-
sumers and experts also highlighted the internet and
social media. HOPP et al. (2017) reported that the in-
ternet is the most important information source for
vegan nutrition. Besides communication, the distribu-
tion of the products is necessary to reach consumers.
The interviewees consider direct sales, i.e.
through farm shops and weekly markets, as well as
organic supermarkets, to be credible and trustworthy.
With regard to the ecological purchasing motives for
biocyclic-vegan products, a look at the preferences of
organic buyers is interesting. Intensive organic buyers
(at least 50% of their food is organic) are the core target
group for organic products. They prefer to purchase in
specialised organic shops (SPILLER et al., 2005).
If one wants to reach a broader range of consum-
ers, then other distribution channels, like supermarkets
and discounters, have to be considered. In fact, more
than 50% of annual organic sales are generated
through discounters (BALZ, 2018). Moreover, the
experts reported the internet to be a distribution chan-
nel. Vegans do not have a preference for a place of
purchase (HOPP et al., 2017). However, people on a
restricted diet in particular are reported to purchase
food through the internet (GRUBE, 2009; LAIKO,
2017). Consumers who follow a vegan diet can be
counted as consumers with a restricted diet as they
exclude a lot of products from their diet and therefore
their choice is limited.
6 Conclusion
In this study, the main motives (health, ethical and
environmental aspects, and taste) for purchasing or-
ganic food that were reported are consistent with re-
sults of previous studies. Moreover, we discovered
what consumers and experts consider to be the ad-
vantages (e.g. ethical, environmental and health rea-
sons) and disadvantages (nutrition cycle, image of
traditional farming and health aspects, such as vitamin
B12) of stock-free agriculture. The main purchasing
motives (to support the idea, ethical and environmen-
tal motives) and barriers (price, lack of knowledge
and rejection of a vegan lifestyle) of biocyclic-vegan
products were examined and the potential target
groups (vegan consumers, vegetarians, flexitarians
and consumers who purchase organic food) identified.
The added value (exclusion of livestock from the
whole production chain) of biocyclic-vegan products
was stated and potential distribution channels (direct
sales such as farm shops, organic shops, and internet
sales) were named, while discussing if the image of
discounters could be detrimental to biocyclic-vegan
products.
This study was of an explorative nature as little
research has been carried out on biocyclic-vegan agri-
culture. Therefore, this study gives first insights into
the topic and can be built on. The presented results are
not representative of the population of consumers in
Germany, which is a characteristic of qualitative stud-
ies. Moreover, it is possible that an interviewer effect
took place. The results provide ideas for further re-
search concerning organic vegan agriculture, especial-
ly biocyclic-vegan agriculture. It would be interesting
to conduct more in-depth interviews with a larger
sample size to find out if theoretical saturation is giv-
en. As biocyclic-vegan products might be interesting
for other consumers it would be advisable to conduct
research of a flexitarian sample. Moreover, a quantita-
tive study of consumers concerning biocyclic-vegan
agriculture would be interesting.
Copyright: www.gjae-online.de
GJAE 68 (2019), Number 4
296
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Contact author:
KRISTIN JÜRKENBECK
University of Goettingen
Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural
Development, Marketing of Food and Agricultural Products
Platz der Göttinger Sieben 5, 37073 Göttingen
e-mail: kristin.juerkenbeck@uni-goettingen.de
... Academic and practitioner literature has favorably associated veganic approaches with various agronomic factors, including: yield, quality, nutrient cycling, soil nitrogen level, soil carbon storage, soil biology, soil organic matter, and energy inputs (Pimentel et al. 2005;Cormack 2006;Hepperly et al. 2006;Eisenbach et al. 2018;Matsuura et al. 2018;Eisenbach et al. 2019;Roussis et al. 2019;Rosato et al. 2020;Utter and Seymour forthcoming) 3 ; sustainable agriculture or food systems (Hall and Tolhurst 2007;Visak 2007;Burnett 2014;Bonsall 2015;Hagemann and Potthast 2015;Hirth 2020;Kassam and Kassam 2021;Nobari 2021); food safety (O'Brien 1964;Seymour 2018a;Alsanius et al. 2019;Utter and Seymour forthcoming); diminished environmental impacts (Markussen et al. 2014;Seymour 2018a); marketing potential (Jürkenbeck et al. 2019;Jürkenbeck and Spiller 2020); and "animal-friendly" (Visak 2007) and "post-lethal" (Mann 2020) agriculture. Despite the diversity of veganic 2 "Stockfree" was selected as a "more neutral technical term," not necessarily associated with veganism (Schmutz and Foresi 2017, p. 477). ...
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