Enhancing Regional Produce as Green Products for the Global Market: An Exploratory Study in a Portuguese Region

Enhancing Regional Produce as Green Products for the Global Market: An Exploratory Study in a Portuguese Region

Marcelo Calvete Gaspar (Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco, Castelo Branco, Portugal), Jorge Julião (Católica Porto Business School, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Porto, Portugal) and Benny Tjahjono (Cranfield School of Management, Bedfordshire, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/IJSESD.2017070107

Abstract

This study focuses on exploring the sustainability characteristics of the regional produce, which comes from the Beiras region of Portugal to support new differentiation claims and forecast its effect on a global mass-market. Considering a Multiple Helix approach, this study aims to examine the role and perception of local academia in relation to this new premise to enhance the dynamic and competitive positioning of such regional produce. To this end, several in-depth interviews were conducted with local researchers and decision-makers, allowing the significance and potential of the proposed green claims to be discussed. Several insights into the subject were developed and new directives were presented. Nonetheless, complementary research may still be necessary to assess the remaining multiple helix actors of the local ecosystem in order to identify and develop the most promising strategies to effectively promote local endogenous produce to a global market.
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Introduction

Over the last decades, a growing interest in the natural environment and sustainability issues has been one of the drivers behind the redesigning of existing products and the creation of new ones, making them more environmentally friendly. Recently, the attention of corporate environmental management has been shifting from clean technologies and pollution prevention to products (Pujari, 2006), particularly to green products (GPs). It has been recognised that the commercial success of GPs in the market place is crucial in helping companies and society to move towards environmental sustainability (Hall & Clark, 2003). Although there is generally no agreed-upon definition, a ‘green product’ can be defined as a product, or service, which is developed to reduce environmental impact over the entire product life-cycle (Albino et al., 2009). These products strive to protect or to enhance the natural environment by conserving energy and/or resources and reducing or eliminating the use of toxic agents, pollution, and waste (Dangelico & Pontrandolfo, 2010; Tsai, 2012), using environmentally friendly materials, with end-of-life strategies (Joshi et al., 2006), among others.

Environmental protection and preservation have become a widely accepted, mainstream issue for consumers (Ginsberg & Bloom, 2004). This increasing consumer awareness of environmentally conscious practices (Yung et al., 2011) is shifting the attention of consumers towards GPs (Chen & Chang, 2012). Thus, green consumers are not only more motivated to purchase GPs, but some are even willing to pay a premium price for GPs (Laroche et al., 2001; Makower, 2009; Cherian & Jacob, 2012). Accordingly, the demand for GPs seems to be increasing (Mintel, 2009). The market share for GPs is estimated to be around 4% (Gleim et al., 2013), and is likely to expand in the future (Dangelico & Pujari, 2010). Moreover, marketing managers have realized that consumer’s criteria to evaluate products are changing and businesses have responded to these demands by introducing products that are marketed as being “environmentally friendly” or “green” (Follows & Jobber, 2000).

Although some researchers (e.g. Khosla, 2005; Orsato, 2006; Reinhardt, 2008; Dangelico & Pujari, 2010; Galarraga et al. 2011; Moreno, 2011; Tomasin et al. 2013) claim higher production costs for GPs, the Porter Hypothesis asserts that that there is no trade-off between economic growth and environmental protection (Porter & van der Linde, 1995). Moreover, integrating environmental sustainability issues into business strategy is becoming a strategic opportunity for companies (e.g., Porter & Reinhardt, 2007). Therefore, as other researchers (e.g.Sharma & Vredenburg, 1998; Sarkis, 2003; Doran & Ryan, 2014) have asserted, GPs can improve a company’s competitiveness. Driven by environmental concerns, more customers have become motivated to purchase green products and even willingly pay comparatively higher prices for these products (Chen, 2008). Accordingly, one may conclude that GPs can positively contribute to economic growth.

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