1 UNIMEP - Universidade Metodista de Piracicaba, Brazil; 2 ESALQ - USP - Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil.
Introduction: The considerable growth of the variety of food available to most Brazilian families in the last century did not always contribute to their healthy nutrition. Increasing concerns with overweight and obesity, as well as with food quality, led to the expansion of the demand for food with special attributes, as the organic and light or diet products. The main objective of this paper is to estimate the income elasticities of the expenditures and the consumption of several types of organic or light/diet food and compare them with the corresponding value for conventional products. Methods: We use data from the 2008-2009 Brazilian Family Budget Survey, collected by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics from May 2008 to May 2009 in a national sample of 55,970 households. A linear spline regression model with three segments, showing how the logarithm of the per capita expenditure with a type of food (or the per capita quantity consumed) varies as a function of the logarithm of the family per capita income, was used to estimate the income elasticities. Logit models were used to analyze the factors that determine the probability of a family consuming organic food or light/diet products. Results: The probability of a family consuming food with those special attributes increases with its income and with the schooling of family’s head. Urban residence increases the probability of consuming light/diet products but not the probability of consuming organic food. The income elasticities of those special types of food are always substantially higher than the income elasticity of the corresponding conventional product. In the case of vegetables, for instance, the income elasticity of the consumption of organic products is 1.57 and only 0.43 for conventional products.