You are on page 1of 18

The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:

Why food companies go green? Why food

The determinant factors to adopt go green?
Marilia Bonzanini Bossle 1317
Department of Business Administration, UNISINOS, São Leopoldo, Brazil and Received 28 October 2015
Department of Business Administration, Revised 29 January 2016
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil Accepted 30 January 2016

Marcia Dutra De Barcellos

Department of Management, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul,
Porto Alegre, Brazil, and
Luciana Marques Vieira
Department of Business Administration, UNISINOS, São Leopoldo, Brazil

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyse how internal and external factors can influence on
the adoption of eco-innovation by food companies. Although innovation and sustainability are relevant
concepts, they are not being considered together in the literature. Hereof, eco-innovation encloses
both approaches.
Design/methodology/approach – A survey with 581 Brazilian companies was conducted.
The structure of influential internal and external factors was analysed by an exploratory factor
analysis, and the relations between groups of variables identified in the study were verified through
regression analysis. Environmental capability, environmental managerial concern and human
resources were internal factors investigated in this study, and regulatory and normative pressures,
cooperation and government support were the external factors.
Findings – Human resources was the most important internal factor, followed by environmental
managerial concern and environmental capability. Collaboration was the most important external
factor, followed by normative pressures and environmental regulations, while government support
was seen as deficient. Companies stated that these factors were important to adopt environmental
practices and increase performance.
Practical implications – Understanding why food companies adopt eco-innovation will help policy
makers to develop specific actions to promote eco-innovations. For managers, it can be a relevant tool
to identify which factors to invest, if the company is eco-strategizing. Hiring committed staff, top
management green consciousness and collaboration with key stakeholders can boost sustainability.
Originality/value – This study brings an innovative approach with robust theoretical support in a
comprehensive conceptual model, gathering and investigating all relevant internal and external factors
in the literature. Those factors are used in an integrated way in the final model for the empirical
investigation, while the literature generally emphasizes only external factors.
Keywords Sustainability, Performance, Eco-innovation, Green technologies, Food companies
Paper type Research paper

Innovation in the food sector is a topic of growing interest among scholars to
investigate what drives companies to invest and what are the consequences in terms of British Food Journal
enhancement of performance and competitiveness (Caiazza and Volpe, 2013; Caiazza Vol. 118 No. 6, 2016
pp. 1317-1333
et al., 2014; Capitanio et al., 2010). In addition to its economic strength, it is growing © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
awareness that innovation plays a key role in protecting the environment and DOI 10.1108/BFJ-10-2015-0388
BFJ providing better quality of life for society in general (Faucheux et al., 2006; Smith et al.,
118,6 2010; Vollenbroek, 2002).
Food companies follow specific patterns, and innovation depends on multiple
factors acting and interacting to build new methods to deal with social or economic
processes. It can be technological and more related to new products and processes, but
can also be non-technological, when related to new organizational or marketing
1318 methods (Caiazza et al., 2014). Considering that worldwide population is growing
fast and it is expected to have around nine or ten billion people for 2050 (United
Nations Population Funds, 2015), the importance of production and consumption of
food to support inhabitants must be highlighted (FAO, 2015). At the same time, food
sector is one of the most important to pressure the environment (FAO, 2015) and
moving towards a more sustainable development (SD) depends on drastic changes
in food production and consumption patterns. In that sense, vigorous changes in
the ways food is produced, processed, transported and consumed are necessary
(Del Río-González, 2005; FAO, 2015).
Although its vulnerability to climate incidents, land sectors are responsible for
30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, and crop and livestock production emissions
represent half of the methane and two-third of the nitrous oxide emitted into the
atmosphere (FAO, 2014). Given its high-environmental impact and level of emissions,
eco-innovation is highly important for the food sector (Demirel and Kesidou, 2011).
Eco-innovation is an innovation that contributes for a reduction of environmental
impact, and it is not limited to products and services. It also includes new marketing
and organizational methods, and social and institutional structures, contributing for
businesses’ positive impact towards SD and competitiveness (OECD, 2009).
Innovation and eco-innovation’s definition in the food sector will not significantly
change from the broad concept, but factors for adopting and developing it will depend
on specific characteristics of the sector. The adoption of innovation in the food industry
have been studied by Caiazza et al. (2014) and Capitanio et al. (2010). This paper
expands these previous studies and postulates that eco-innovation should be studied
with a specific approach. It is assumed that eco-innovation differentiates in both the
externalities and factors that boost the adoption and development of eco-innovation
(De Marchi, 2012).
Eco-innovations hold specific features, such as the importance of creating links and
positive trade-offs between the attribute of environmental protection and other critical
factors of competitive products and services, such as style, design, price and
performance (Carrillo-Hermosilla et al., 2010). Therefore, applying and assimilating
innovation and sustainability in business management are crucial to achieve
sustainability main objectives (social, economic and environmental) (Korhonen, 2001).
Although the importance of innovation and sustainability for manufacturing is
evident, in the food sector those concepts are being considered separately. There is
a lack of studying eco-innovations in the food sector and consequently this is an area
for extending research (Bossle et al., 2016). Eco-innovation in the food sector is
conceptualized as “the development or implementation of (new) products, process or
services that creates environmental benefits. Eco-innovation can be achieved with
concerns with basic ingredients (organic, free range), packaging (i.e. recyclable),
manufacturing process (energy saving, water recycling), logistics or distribution (new
channels or direct consumer sales, etc.); certifications (traceability or origin, eco-labels,
fair and solidarity trade, ISO 14001); commercial aspects (low-carbon footprint, etc.)”
(Ecotrophelia, 2014; Horbach et al., 2012; OECD, 2009).
Having all that said this study aims at closing the gap found in several studies on Why food
eco-innovation, that investigate external factors as the most influent factors for companies
adoption of eco-innovation, while internal factors to the company should be further
assessed. In addition, there is a lack of empirical research, addressed in this study, by
go green?
exploring the food sector and expanding for eco-innovation previous studies that
investigated innovation in the food industry (Caiazza et al., 2014; Capitanio et al., 2010).
Therefore, the following questions are proposed: “what are the determinant factors for 1319
adoption of eco-innovation by food companies? What are the influential factors for a
positive effect on the performance after adopting an eco-innovation?” Within this
context, the main purpose of this paper is to analyse how internal and external
determinant factors can influence the adoption of eco-innovation. Companies from the
food sector in Brazil provide the empirical evidence.
In addition to this introduction, this paper brings the background for this empirical
research, innovation and eco-innovation in food, then the method employed is
described, followed by results, discussion and conclusions.

Innovation in food and eco-innovation

Caiazza et al. (2014) created a framework to investigate drivers for innovation,
focusing on the role and influence of different actors and agents on driving
innovation. Results show that innovation is developed from synergy among different
actors and knowledge and newness applied in food sector value chain increase
companies and countries’ competitiveness. Capitanio et al. (2010) also studied drivers
for adoption of innovation in the food sector, showing that innovation within the food
industry does not necessarily follows standard patterns (e.g. relationship between
investments in research and development (R&D) is not a sine qua non condition for
food innovation).
Regulation and public policies can be important factors for innovation, particularly
for managing risk, uncertainty, and increasing cooperation among innovative agents,
constraining action of free riders (Caiazza et al., 2014). Economic and normative
incentives from government can stimulate innovation (Caiazza and Volpe, 2013) and
food companies relate innovation as a tool to increase quality of the products and to
improve marketing and management skills (Caiazza et al., 2014).
Companies play a key role and the food sector brings interesting elements to go
deeply in the study of eco-innovation for several reasons. The food industry is more
aware to add value to the products through differentiation and market orientation,
and to influence consumer’s demand for safety and healthy food, animal welfare,
environmental issues, among others (De Barcellos et al., 2011; Vieira et al., 2013).
However, eco-innovation in agriculture and in the food sector can be a complex issue,
due to difficulties to measure sustainability’s level (Lowe et al., 2008), in relation to the
challenge to both encompass all links in the food chain (Ohmart, 2008), and to include
environmental issues in an economic and profitable strategy (Santini et al., 2013).

Influential factors for adoption of eco-innovation

The adoption of innovations associated with environmental sustainability has been a
topic of growing interest among scholars (Gauthier and Wooldridge, 2012),
recognizing that companies need to improve their current practices and considering
eco-innovation as a win-win strategy (Cainelli et al., 2012). Eco-innovation has been
studied in the literature, mainly as a redefinition of innovation (Rennings, 2000),
BFJ including the protection for the environment. Environmental responsibility in
118,6 new products development usually originates from an internal orientation of the
firm, combined with the prospective market success (Dangelico and Pujari, 2010).
So, it is important to know which are the factors for the adoption of eco-innovation by
the companies.
The degree of perceived pressure from regulatory stakeholders (Huang et al., 2009)
1320 and stricter regulations can boost eco-innovation (Chen et al., 2012; Demirel and
Kesidou, 2011; Green et al., 1994; Horbach, 2008; Horbach et al., 2012; Weng and Lin,
2011). Normative pressure is another important external factor, and it can be the result
of pressures from different stakeholders on the adoption of eco-innovation (Arnold and
Hockerts, 2011; Huang et al., 2009). The relevance of cooperation is also stressed, mainly
due to the systemic and complex characteristic of eco-innovation, requiring more
interdependency between the firms (De Marchi, 2012; Horbach, 2008), customers,
suppliers (Green et al., 1994) and other organizations.
In addition to external factors, internal factors will induce companies to evaluate
costs, benefits, and risks involved in the adoption of eco-innovations (Arnold and
Hockerts, 2011). Human resources can be an important factor for eco-innovation,
through development of internal platforms, networks and more investments on
training and sustainability programs (Arnold and Hockerts, 2011; Green et al., 1994;
Theyel, 2000; Weng and Lin, 2011). Chen et al. (2012) identified environmental
capability as firm’s abilities to integrate, coordinate, build, and reconfigure its
competences and resources to accomplish its environmental management and
environmental innovations as an internal origin of environmental innovations. The role
of managers are also stressed, thorough the influence of an environmental leadership
(Chen et al., 2012) and “managerial environmental concern” (Eiadat et al., 2008).
On adoption of eco-innovation it is important to integrate sustainability as an
explicit goal in the design process (Arnold and Hockerts, 2011), turning environmental
innovation strategy a relevant factor to ensure positive business performance and
better internal efficiency (Eiadat et al., 2008; Tseng et al., 2013). Eco-innovation is also
an important tool to respond to constantly changes in technology and shorter product’s
life cycles. Therefore, since eco-innovation can be a strategy to deal with uncertainty,
top management risk attitudes (Calantone et al., 2003) and technology turbulence (Han
et al., 1998) can be important factors for adoption of eco-innovation.
Finally, it is important to empirically investigate the influence of external and
internal factors. We propose a framework where regulatory (Chen et al., 2012; Eiadat
et al., 2008) and normative pressures (Arundel and Kemp, 2009; Huang et al., 2009);
cooperation (De Marchi, 2012; Green et al., 1994) and government support (Weng and
Lin, 2011; De Marchi, 2012; Horbach, 2008) can influence the adoption of eco-innovation.
Internal factors are related to environmental capability and environmental managerial
concerns, including environmental leadership (Chen et al., 2012; Eiadat et al., 2008) and
quality of human resources (Green et al., 1994; Weng and Lin, 2011). Environmental
strategy, top management risk and characteristics of industry’s technology can also
affect the adoption of eco-innovation. All those factors can influence the adoption of
eco-innovation by the companies, and (positively) affect the performance, both in
economic and environmental terms (see Figure 1).
There is a need to study companies that are already applying eco-innovation in their
strategies, to envision what has driven these benchmarking companies and to plan
further actions to stimulate more initiatives in that direction. Next, the method applied
in this research is described.
Why food
Top Management risk companies
External Factors Technology
go green?
Internal Factors
in the industry
Environmental Capability
Regulatory Pressures
Environmental - Firm’s capability
Normative Pressures
(Market demand)
Managerial Concern
Adoption of - Environmental Leadership
- Internal Eco-innovation
- External Human Resources
- Training Figure 1.
- Quality of personnel
Government Support Conceptual
Performance framework for
adoption of
Source: Adapted from Bossle et al. (2016)

To achieve the objectives of this study, a descriptive phase was performed, and a
survey with 581 companies was conducted, and is further described in this section.

To develop the final version of the questionnaire, the proposed framework and its
measures (see Figure 1) were first evaluated in September 2014 by practitioners and
academic experts from the food sector. In total, 24 professionals (practitioners,
representatives of sectorial institutions and academic researchers), experts in the food
sector, validated the factors and its corresponding description. Internal and external
factors from the literature (Bossle et al., 2016) were assessed from “Not important
at all” (1) until “Extremely important” (10), in a ten-point scale, according to the
extent the respondents perceived the influence of such factors for adoption of
eco-innovation. According to the results, professionals from the food sector ratified
the relevance of the given factors, which allowed going further on the development of
the questionnaire.
Following this phase, two pre-tests were performed to evaluate the questionnaire.
First, in October 2014 in two versions, in Portuguese and in English at SIAL, France,
the world’s largest food exhibition. Eight questionnaires were applied and analysis
from this first test, both from results and from respondents’ comments and reactions
allowed several improvements in the questionnaire. Then, a second version of the
questionnaire was pre-tested in Porto Alegre, Brazil, at BioNat Expo, a trade fair with
organic, sustainable and fair trade products, in person. After conducting 13 interviews,
the questionnaire was improved to achieve its final form in January 2015.
The questionnaire contained a filter question, taken after reading the eco-innovation
definition (as defined earlier), in which the respondents were asked if the company
fitted the concept. In addition to this question, they were asked to define which
were exactly the eco-innovations applied or developed (with the list obtained from the
literature), into 14 yes/no questions. The aim was to investigate eco-innovative
companies, i.e., only companies that applied or developed eco-innovations in their
business composed the sample. After these first questions, internal and external
BFJ motivation factors to adopt it, and items related to performance, strategy and
118,6 management were investigated (see Table I). At the end, company’s characteristics were
identified. Table I presents constructs, sources and scales applied in the questionnaire.

Data collection and sample characteristics

Data were collected through a telephone survey from January to April 2015. In total,
1322 database (obtained from the Federation of Industries of Rio Grande do Sul State and
two organic certifying bodies) comprised 1,647 companies of which 581 food companies
agreed to participate. The sample was randomly selected and represented 35 per cent of
the population. Respondents were targeted according to their position in the company,
e.g. owner, director, top managers from environmental or product development.
Most companies were from Southern region (409), followed by South-East (108), and other
regions (64) in Brazil. The oldest company was established in 1815 and the newest in 2013,
more than 270 were established after 1995. In relation to firm revenues in 2013, 224
companies earned €550,000 or less, 168 between €550,000 and €3.7 million, 130, between
€3.7 and €21 million, 34 between €21 and €70 million and 11 more than €70 million.

Statistical analysis
All the internal and external factors that are supposed to influence the adoption of
eco-innovation by companies were measured through univariate statistics. The structure of
the influential factors was analysed with exploratory factor analysis (EFA). The principal

Construct Sources Scales

Environmental Chen (2011) and Chen et al. (2012) 5-point Likert from strongly
capability (4-items) disagree (1) to strongly agree (5)
Managerial Chen (2011), Chen et al. (2012) and Eiadat
environmental et al. (2008)
concern (8-items)
Environmental The Community Innovation Survey (CIS)
regulations (6-items) (2008) and Eiadat et al. (2008)
Environmental Chen et al. (2014), adapted from
strategy (4-items) Banerjee (2003)
Top management Jaworski and Kohli (1993) and Calantone
risk aversion et al. (2003)
Technology Jaworski and Kohli (1993), Calantone
turbulence (5-items) et al. (2003) and Han et al. (1998)
Human resources Green et al. (1994) and Weng and Lin 5-point Likert from not important at
(4-items) (2011), all (1) to very important (5)
Normative pressure Arundel and Kemp, (2009), CIS (2008)
(15-items) and Huang et al. (2009)
Cooperation (8-items) De Marchi (2012), Green et al. (1994) and
The Community Innovation Survey
Governmental Weng and Lin (2011) 5-point Likert from not at all (1) and
support (3-items) to a great extent (5)
Table I. Performance Eiadat et al. (2008) and Weng and 5-point Likert from “substantial
Constructs, scales (4-items) Lin (2011) negative” (1) and “substantial
and sources positive” (5)
component analysis with varimax rotation was applied. Keiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) score Why food
and Bartlett’s test was verified (Hair et al., 1998). companies
In order to verify the relationship among groups of variables identified in the
study, a regression analysis was performed. Internal and external factors identified
go green?
in the EFA were tested as independent variables (predictors), and performance of
eco-innovative food companies was tested as dependent variable. To assess the internal
consistency of the data collection instrument, Cronbach’s α coefficients were measured 1323
for each of the sections, and satisfactory internal consistency was found, almost all
greater than 0.6 (Hair et al., 1998). The quantitative data from this stage was analysed
with SPSS (statistical univariate).

Most studies that investigate eco-innovation end up with the conclusion that factors
external to the company are the most relevant motivators for greening the company,
and stimulating the adoption of eco-innovation. However, it is raising awareness that,
in addition to these external forces, there are internal strengths that the company can
count with to address this demand in relation to eco-innovation and sustainability that
should be further assessed. Aiming at addressing this gap, with an empirical research
in the food sector, and by expanding the knowledge in relation to studies on innovation
in food companies, results from the investigation about the internal and external
factors for adoption of eco-innovation in the food sector are presented in this section.

The principal component analysis with varimax rotation was applied with significant
scores, KMO was 0.90 and Bartlett’s test scored 16,307.464 (Hair et al., 1998). Eight
factors were found (three for internal and five for external factors) for an eigenvalue
higher than 1, as shown in Tables II and III. All the items were measured in a five-point
scale (see Table I). The explained variance was 70.16 per cent.

Internal and external factors

“Environmental capability” presented an internal consistency and the resultant factor
analysis kept all items, with satisfactory factor loadings (KMO 0.82, Barlett test
1,507.28, sig. 0.000, 78.06 per cent of explained variance). Due to the low mean of this
construct (3.00), it can be inferred that the sample analysed is not very assertive in
relation to its environmental capability, even if awareness seems to be high, as well as
the adoption of eco-innovation. “Environmental managerial concern” (KMO 0.908,
Barlett test 2,471.20, sig. 0.000, 60.04 per cent of explained variance), general mean 4.04,
presented high means among eco-innovative food companies, confirming the
importance of managers’ awareness for the development of eco-innovations.
Importance of human resources (KMO 0.822, Barlett test 1,385.33, sig. 0.000,
76.58 per cent of explained variance) presented high reliability, and the highest mean
for internal factors (4.69). This result ratifies that human resources is essential to
contribute with more eco-innovations in food companies, both by training and
motivation, as well as by encouragement from top managers, ratifying the
results above.
All the six-item of environmental regulations were kept (KMO 0.832, Barlett test
1,275.372, sig. 0.000, 56.13 per cent of explained variance), mean 3.89, which is a high
mean, but not the most important factor in magnitude. This result should be stressed as
BFJ Internal factors Loading Mean SD
Environmental capability (α: 0.91) 3.00 1.03
The company’s environmental capability is …
Outstanding 0.77 3.34 1.11
Rare in marketplace 0.88 2.93 1.11
Less imitable by competitors 0.86 2.78 1.18
1324 Difficult to be replaced 0.87 2.92 1.17
Environmental managerial concern (α: 0.90) 4.04 0.63
The leaders within the company inspire a shared vision of the organization as
environmentally sustainable, creating or maintaining green values
throughout the company 0.64 3.96 0.88
The leaders within the company utilize well-developed approaches to
environmental management which generally centre around a programme
customized to the company’s specific business and market 0.68 3.60 0.93
The leaders within the company create partnerships with the company’s
stakeholders to solve environmental problems and to accomplish
environmental goals 0.65 3.76 0.84
The leaders within the company can take on the responsibility of
environmental education with the intent of engaging employees in
environmental management initiatives 0.68 3.87 0.82
Environmental innovation is necessary to achieve high levels of
environmental performance 0.76 4.07 0.78
Environmental innovation is an important component of the company’s
environmental management strategy 0.84 4.15 0.82
Most environmental innovations are worthwhile 0.72 4.46 0.69
Environmental innovation is an effective environmental management
strategy 0.81 4.28 0.73
Importance of human resources (α: 0.90) 4.69 0.53
Importance of personnel commitment to environmental matters for adoption
of an eco-innovation 0.84 4.69 0.58
Importance of personnel motivation for adoption of an eco-innovation 0.85 4.66 0.61
Table II. Importance of training for sustainability approach for adoption of an eco-
Exploratory factor innovation 0.85 4.68 0.62
analysis of the Importance of top management to encourage employees to learn green
internal factors practices for adoption of an eco-innovation 0.84 4.75 0.56

a particular characteristic of Brazilian companies (different from European

companies, e.g.), where there is low or none pressure from regulations for the
adoption of eco-innovation.
The scale that measured normative pressures from the market was divided in two
factors: one with stakeholders with a direct relationship, such as clients and
headquarters, and the other with other stakeholders. The variable represented by the
first item of the scale (pressure from public authorities) had to be removed due to its
very low-reliability score. The first factor, normative pressure: closer relationship
(KMO 0.745, Barlett test 1,085.186, sig. 0.000, 83.51 per cent of explained variance),
mean value of 4.46, indicates a high influence of stakeholders with a direct relationship,
such as clients and headquarters. Normative pressure from other stakeholders, second
factor, kept ten items, one had to be suppressed due to low factor loading (pressure
from top management). Other loadings were quite satisfactory, indicating that the
items were highly correlated with the factor (KMO 0.916, Bartlett test 5,475.921,
sig. 0.000, 69.98 per cent of explained variance).
External factors Loading Mean SD
Why food
Environmental regulations (α: 0.84) 3.89 0.69 go green?
Recently my company introduced an eco-innovation in response to:
Existing environmental regulations or environmental taxes 0.67 3.79 0.99
Environmental regulations or taxes that are expected to be introduced
in the future 0.64 3.57 0.90
Environmental laws and regulations that affect my company … 1325
Contain stringent standards 0.60 4.03 0.91
Are appropriate for my country’s circumstances 0.73 3.90 0.87
Are clear 0.72 3.92 0.95
Are effective in tackling environmental problems directly 0.79 4.05 0.82
Normative pressure from … – closer relationship (α: 0.90) 4.46 0.83
Corporate headquarters 0.72 4.62 0.80
Household consumers/clients 0.68 4.45 0.89
Commercial buyers 0.70 4.42 0.95
Normative pressure from … – ext. pressures, employees (α: 0.95) 4.07 1.00
Suppliers of goods and services 0.64 4.29 1.01
Shareholders and investment funds 0.83 3.88 1.24
Banks and other lenders 0.81 3.89 1.26
Non-management employees (employees) 0.61 4.57 0.84
Labour unions 0.85 4.01 1.25
Industry or trade associations 0.91 4.03 1.23
Environmental groups or organizations 0.91 3.97 1.26
Neighbourhood/community groups and organizations 0.87 4.16 1.29
Competitors 0.86 4.07 1.23
International partners 0.82 4.10 1.25
Government support (α: 0.93) 1.39 0.79
Government provides financial support for adopting eco-innovation 0.88 1.50 0.91
Government provides technical assistance for adopting eco-innovation 0.94 1.37 0.87
Government helps training manpower with green skills for eco-innovation 0.94 1.32 0.82
Collaboration (α: 0.90) – importance of collaboration with: 4.69 0.47
Customers/consumers/clients for developing/adopting an eco-innovation 0.65 4.66 0.62
Suppliers 0.78 4.72 0.60
Within your company 0.77 4.72 0.60
Competitors or other enterprises of the same industry 0.79 4.67 0.65 Table III.
University, research centre or other higher education institutions 0.75 4.60 0.65 Exploratory factor
Government 0.70 4.80 0.51 analysis of the
Professional and industrial associations 0.77 4.75 0.54 external factors

Government support was the factor with the lowest mean, meaning that companies
from this sample do not consider that the government act in a supportive way to
influence the adoption of eco-innovation. All items were kept (KMO 0.730, Bartlett test
1,577.890, sig. 0.000, 88 per cent of explained variance). Collaboration with different
stakeholders seems to be also an important factor (mean 4.69), all items kept (KMO
0.902, Bartlett test 1,943.282, sig. 0.000, 60.33 per cent of explained variance).

Performance, management and strategy

EFA was also performed for the third block of the questionnaire, with significant scores,
KMO was 0.928 and Bartlett’s test scored 6678.413 (Hair et al., 1998). It was found four
factors (see Table IV) for an eigenvalue higher than 1. The explained variance was
71.80 per cent. Reliability was measured by Cronbach’s α test. Factors presented
satisfactory Cronbach’s α – all higher than 0.6 (Hair et al., 1998).
BFJ Loadings Mean SD
Performance (α: 0.91) – the effect of the adoption of eco-innovation on … 3.87 0.76
Market share was … 0.78 3.84 0.88
Sales growth was … 0.82 3.62 0.94
Return on investment was … 0.82 3.74 0.92
Environmental performance was … 0.75 4.30 0.78
1326 Economic performance was … 0.82 3.83 0.92
Top management risk taking (α: 0.87) – top managers in this company … 3.71 0.83
Believe that higher financial risks are worth taking for higher rewards 0.72 3.86 1.00
Accept occasional new product failures as being normal 0.81 3.63 1.03
Encourage the development of innovative marketing strategies, knowing
that some will fail 0.76 3.57 1.07
Like to act boldly 0.61 3.83 0.94
Decide to implement plans even if they are not certain that they will work 0.76 3.66 1.05
Technology turbulence (α: 0.86) 4.20 0.64
The technology in our industry is changing rapidly 0.70 4.19 0.81
Technological changes provide big opportunities in our industry 0.64 4.13 0.83
It is very difficult to forecast where the technology in our industry will be in
the next 2 to 3 years 0.83 4.24 0.89
A large number of new product ideas have been made possible through
technological breakthroughs in our industry 0.78 4.19 0.76
Technological developments in our industry are rather major 0.74 4.27 0.73
Strategy (α: 0.93) 4.08 0.79
Our firm has integrated environmental issues into our strategic planning
Table IV. process 0.83 4.05 0.92
Exploratory factor At our firm. quality includes reducing the environmental impact of products
analysis for and processes 0.82 4.09 0.86
performance, At our firm we make every effort to link environmental objectives with our
strategy and other other corporate goals 0.83 4.11 0.84
issues Environmental issues are always considered when we develop new products 0.84 4.13 0.87

All the scales in this block kept all items used in the original scales, with high reliability
and significant scores. Companies in this sample claimed that the inclusion of
environmental concerns when developing the strategy is a current practice.
Environmental strategy (KMO 0.88, Bartlett test 1,877.954, sig. 0.000, 73.38 per cent
of explained variance), presented a high mean of 4.08, with companies stating that they
integrated environmental issues to the new products development process.
Technology is not very easy to predict in this sector, and technology turbulence
scored highest in terms of mean (4.20), with KMO 0.837, Bartlett test 1,222.142,
sig. 0.000, 63.75 per cent of explained variance. Performance also had a high mean
(3.87), with KMO 0.880, Bartlett test 1,877.954, sig. 0.000, 73.38 per cent of explained
variance. As well as top management risk, KMO 0.862, Bartlett test 1,274.272, sig. 0.000,
65.43 per cent of explained variance indicating that top managers in this field should be
daring and bold.
Next, multiple regression analysis is applied, aiming to investigate the relations
between performance and influential factors (internal and external).

Regression analysis
A regression analysis was carried out in order to identify the influence of independent
variables in the performance of eco-innovative food companies (Table V). The main
Unstandardized coefficients Standardized coefficients
Why food
Model B SE β t Sig. companies
go green?
(Constant) 0.231 0.379 0.611 0.542
Environmental capability 0.026 0.032 0.034 0.794 0.428
Environmental management concern 0.336 0.062 0.276 5.393 0.000
Human resources 0.087 0.062 0.058 1.414 0.158
Environmental regulations 0.293 0.054 0.254 5.463 0.000 1327
Normative pressure – direct relationship 0.148 0.053 0.155 2.783 0.006
Normative pressure – other stakeholders −0.084 0.042 −0.111 −2.020 0.044
Government support 0.103 0.038 0.111 2.748 0.006 Table V.
Collaboration 0.037 0.071 0.022 0.520 0.604 Regression
Note: Dependent variable: performance analysis

factor associated to performance is environmental management concern. Therefore, for

every unit increase in environmental management concern, a 0.336 unit increase in
performance is predicted, holding all other variables constant. In addition,
environmental regulations, normative pressure, both factors, and government
support also influence the performance.
A 0.293 unit increase in performance will be expected for each unit increase of
environmental regulation pressure. Every unit increase in normative pressure, direct
relationship and government support is expected a 0.148 and 0.103, respectively, point
increase in performance. Normative pressures from other stakeholders impacts
negatively on performance.
Therefore, answering the second research question, environmental managerial
concern, environmental regulation, normative pressure from close stakeholders, and
government support are influential factors for a positive effect on the performance after
adopting an eco-innovation. The importance of internal factors within the firm is highly
influential both for adoption of eco-innovation and consequent company’s performance.
Surprisingly, government support and environmental regulations are seen as influential
factors for a positive performance, as well as the pressure from clients and headquarters.

In this paper, factors for adoption of eco-innovation by food companies and influential
factors for a positive effect on the performance after adopting an eco-innovation were
analysed. Brazilian food companies that adopt eco-innovations, either as a process or as
a final product were investigated. Although findings in Baumgartner and Ebner (2010)
suggest that companies tend to pursue sustainability by chance, companies in this
sample claim to include these issues in their strategies. As a result, performance was
positively influenced by the adoption of eco-innovation.
Given the high rated score for the scale “top management aversion risk”, it is
possible to infer the capacity of eco-innovations to provide new business opportunities
and contribute to a transformation towards a sustainable society (Carrillo-Hermosilla
et al., 2010). As this study identifies, eco-innovative companies count on top managers
that believe in their business, and are not scared when facing new ideas. This can be
very important for the food sector keep growing and eco-innovating.
In that sense, although companies can be considered the main responsible for
environmental problems (Schaltegger and Wagner, 2011), they can also take advantage
BFJ of this entrepreneurship characteristic to move forward and proactively in the search
118,6 for solutions and to change this eventual bad image. Environmental management is
gathering importance within organizations (Chen, 2008) and it is an important driver
for adoption of eco-innovation for companies in this sample, as well as the presence of
an environmental leadership in the company. These results are aligned to previous
studies, such as Theyel (2000) who found that the adoption of environmental
1328 management practices by leading plants induce to continued improvement, which may
impact also other stakeholders in the chain. As well, the increasing concern about
environmental issues from customers, the public and governments are pushing
business to become greener (Chiou et al., 2011).
Policy makers and other institutions can easily address their target goals towards a
sustainable production if they understand what motivates food companies to adopt
sustainable and innovative practices. For example, Caiazza et al. (2014) found that
innovation could be boost by the willingness to achieve an international and
competitive position in the food sector, and that cooperation can be stimulated by
public policies. For managers it can be a relevant tool to identify how they can enhance
their strategies towards a more competitive management. Research centres on
innovation and quality certifications bodies could also be important factors to increase
innovation and therefore, competitiveness (Caiazza et al., 2014).
In accordance with Paraschiv et al. (2012), this study identified that companies are
struggling to meet SD goals required by stakeholders through the development of
eco-innovation. Eco-innovations helped the companies to improve performance, bringing
benefits to the company itself and ultimately, to society. A financially healthy company
offer jobs, contributes to the government when paying taxes and moves the consumer
market. In general, companies and government should increase awareness that
eco-technologies can benefit the organizations that implement them and regional and
national economies in general, helping to create new jobs, and to achieve the ecological
objectives of SD (Paraschiv et al., 2012). Other studies (such as Caiazza et al., 2014)
found external factors and relationships as important factors for innovation, in this
study, closer stakeholders or factors that can be managed internally were found
relevant to significantly influence performance. These results can be related to an
emerging country context such as Brazil, where public sector fails to regulate or
monitor more environmental friendly practices. However, it also shows the importance
for managers to eco-innovate in order to achieve a better performance. It is not
just incrementally change the product or process but to re-think it in a more
sustainable way.
Surprisingly, environmental regulation is not the most important factor for adoption
of eco-innovation and government support is seen as insufficient, although, both
constructs are significant influents on the performance of eco-innovative companies.
According to Bergquist and Söderholm (2011), the State is not limited to shape the way
companies behave through laws and regulations, but should use other mechanisms as
those public policies to support innovative and international activities by food
companies suggested by Caiazza et al. (2014).

The importance on studying eco-innovation in the food sector can become of extremely
relevance since studies in this area are very fragmented, or related to sustainable
consumption, such as organic consumption, which brings some difficulties to
generalize it and to extend its analysis to a broader view. The food processing industry
is typically described as a relatively mature and slow-growing area of business, which Why food
displays a relatively low level of R&D investment and is quite conservative in the type companies
of innovations it introduces to the market (Costa and Jongen, 2006). Yet, opportunities
arising from the green market as well as the increased environmental consciousness
go green?
from managers will stimulate companies from this sector, creating a positive cycle for
eco-innovation and development. Companies, government and society can certainly
benefit with lower environmental impacts coming from production, and one must not 1329
forget that the economic driver is a key aspect to sustainability.
Therefore, the combination of internal and external factors to eco-innovate brings
positive outcomes for the food chain. In practice, this research contributes by pointing
to managers and food chain members the factors that can boost capabilities and
resources to eco-innovate and increase performance. For instance, strategies to increase
collaboration with key stakeholders (such as partnerships with universities and
research centres, joining a food cluster or agro-food park) could be planned.
Among internal factors human resources are the main motivation for adoption of eco-
innovation, followed by environmental managerial concern and environmental capability.
It means that managing and training the staff to deal with innovation and sustainability
combined is crucial, and it should be based on a selective and careful recruitment from the
start. The correct allocation of resources brings significant results to greening the
innovation and generating profit. Collaboration with different stakeholders was the most
important external factor for the food companies addressed in this sample. Normative
pressures and environmental regulations are also important factors, and government
support for boosting more investments in this field is seen as deficient. In practice, it
represents an opportunity for policy members to implement measures and incentives for
eco-innovative companies such as training, financial or tax incentives, among others.
Regarding performance, companies stated that performance could be increased with
more environmental managerial concern, as well as regulatory and normative pressure
from closer stakeholders. Government support was also found as a significant predictor
of good performance in this sample.
This research brings important contributions for the study of innovation in the agro-
food sector. Theoretical contributions can be related to the fact that eco-innovation is
approached in the food sector, in order to investigate peculiarities and motivations for
this specific industry, as has been done for innovation (Caiazza et al., 2014; Capitanio
et al., 2010). Previous researchers (Del Río-González, 2005, 2009; Carrillo-Hermosilla
et al., 2010 and others) have focused their research in the analysis of external factors to
the firm as the main influential factors for eco-innovation. In this research, this
approach is extended to analyse and comprehend the importance of internal factors in
theoretical framework for factors for adoption of eco-innovation.
As highlighted by Ahmed and Kamruzzaman (2010, p. 59), the world is at the brink
of environmental revolution. In this context, some organizations are investing in
eco-innovations while others are still far away or trying to seize the new environment
related business opportunity. For the latter, the identification of the influential factors
of eco-innovation may help the organizations to adopt greener practices, ultimately
contributing to SD. Eco-innovation is a dynamic concept, and companies should feel
stimulated to develop differentiated food products with value-added to the entire chain.
Taking into consideration the complexity that sustainable and technological
changes bring to the management of a food company and more broadly to the food
chain, eco-innovation is clearly seen as an opportunity for the companies, and in the
same time as a challenge. The challenge involves the ability of encompassing all agents
BFJ of the food chain, and also to make clear to the food companies what is sustainability,
118,6 why to adopt and how to include environmental issues in an economic and profitable
strategy (Ohmart, 2008; Santini et al., 2013).
Although this is a self-report survey, and limitations in this study can be due to the
willingness to give the right answer, some precautions were taken, through pre-tests,
carefully revising the text in the questionnaire, training survey appliers and checking
1330 answers with respondents. Future research should aim at testing the effects of all
factors proposed in this conceptual model on the adoption of eco-innovation in
countries according to their level of development or divided by sub-sectors in the food
industry. In addition, further analysis can include some moderators in the model,
e.g. the construct of top management risk aversion can moderate the adoption of
eco-innovation, or the perception of technology in the sector.

Ahmed, S. and Kamruzzaman, M. (2010), “Drivers of eco-innovation”, master thesis,
Linköping University (LiU), Linköping.
Arnold, M.G. and Hockerts, K. (2011), “The greening Dutchman: Philips’ process of green flagging
to drive sustainable innovations”, Business Strategy and the Environment, Vol. 20 No. 6,
pp. 394-407.
Arundel, A. and Kemp, R. (2009), “Measuring eco-innovation”, Working Paper Series
No. 2009-017, UNU-MERIT, Maastricht.
Banerjee, S.B. (2003), “Who sustains whose development? Sustainable development and the
reinvention of nature”, Organization Studies, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 143-180.
Baumgartner, R.J. and Ebner, D. (2010), “Corporate sustainability strategies: sustainability
profiles and maturity levels”, Sustainable Development, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 76-89.
Bergquist, A.K. and Söderholm, K. (2011), “Green innovation systems in Swedish industry,
1960-1989”, Business History Review, Vol. 85 No. 4, pp. 677-698.
Bossle, M.B., de Barcellos, M.D., Vieira, L.M. and Sauvée, L. (2016), “The drivers for adoption of
eco-innovation”, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 113, pp. 861-872.
Caiazza, R. and Volpe, T. (2013), “How campanian SME can compete in the global agro-food
industry”, Journal of Food Products Marketing, Vol. 19 No. 5, pp. 406-412.
Caiazza, R., Volpe, T. and Audretsch, D.B. (2014), “Innovation in agro-food system: policies, actors
and activities”, Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global
Economy, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 180-187.
Cainelli, G., Mazzanti, M. and Montresor, S. (2012), “Environmental innovations, local networks
and internationalization”, Industry and Innovation, Vol. 19 No. 8, pp. 697-734.
Calantone, R., Garcia, R. and Dröge, C. (2003), “The effects of environmental turbulence on new
product development strategy planning”, The Journal of Product Innovation Management,
Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 90-103.
Capitanio, F., Coppola, A. and Pascucci, S. (2010), “Product and process innovation in the Italian
food industry”, Agribusiness, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 503-518.
Carrillo-Hermosilla, J., Del Río, P. and Könnölä, T. (2010), “Diversity of eco-innovations: reflections
from selected case studies”, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 18 No. 10, pp. 1073-1083.
Chen, Y., Tang, G., Jin, J., Li, J. and Paillé, P. (2014), “Linking market orientation and environmental
performance: the influence of environmental strategy, employee’s environmental
involvement, and environmental product quality”, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 127
No. 2, pp. 479-500.
Chen, Y.S. (2008), “The driver of green innovation and green image – green core competence”, Why food
Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 81 No. 3, pp. 531-543.
Chen, Y.S. (2011), “Green organizational identity: sources and consequence”, Management go green?
Decision, Vol. 49 No. 3, pp. 384-404.
Chen, Y.-S., Chang, C.-H. and Wu, F.-S. (2012), “Origins of green innovations: the differences
between proactive and reactive green innovations”, Management Decision, Vol. 50 No. 3,
pp. 368-398. 1331
Chiou, T.Y., Chan, H.K., Lettice, F. and Chung, S.H. (2011), “The influence of greening the
suppliers and green innovation on environmental performance and competitive advantage
in Taiwan”, Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Vol. 47
No. 6, pp. 822-836.
Costa, A.I.A. and Jongen, W.M.F. (2006), “New insights into consumer-led food product
development”, Trends in Food Science and Technology, Vol. 17 No. 8, pp. 457-465.
Dangelico, R.M. and Pujari, D. (2010), “Mainstreaming green product innovation: why and how
companies integrate environmental sustainability”, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 95
No. 3, pp. 471-486.
De Barcellos, M.D., Krystallis, A., De Melo Saab, M.S., Kügler, J.O. and Grunert, K.G. (2011),
“Investigating the gap between citizens’ sustainability attitudes and food purchasing
behaviour: empirical evidence from Brazilian pork consumers”, International Journal of
Consumer Studies, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 391-402.
De Marchi, V. (2012), “Environmental innovation and R&D cooperation: empirical evidence from
Spanish manufacturing firms”, Research Policy, Vol. 41 No. 3, pp. 614-623.
Del Río-González, P. (2005), “Analysing the factors influencing clean technology adoption: a study
of the Spanish pulp and paper industry”, Business Strategy and the Environment, Vol. 14
No. 1, pp. 20-37.
Del Río-González, P. (2009), “The empirical analysis of the determinants for environmental
technological change: a research agenda”, Ecological Economics, Vol. 68 No. 3, pp. 9861-878.
Demirel, P. and Kesidou, E. (2011), “Stimulating different types of eco-innovation in the UK:
government policies and firm motivations”, Ecological Economics, Vol. 70 No. 8,
pp. 1546-1557.
Ecotrophelia (2014), “European food innovation: student awards”, available at: www. (accessed 14 November 2014).
Eiadat, Y., Kelly, A., Roche, F. and Eyadat, H. (2008), “Green and competitive? An empirical test of
the mediating role of environmental innovation strategy”, Journal of World Business,
Vol. 43 No. 2, pp. 131-145.
FAO (2014), FAO Statistical Yearbook 2014 – Latin America and the Caribbean Food and
Agriculture, FAO, Santiago.
FAO (2015), “Sustainable food consumption and production”, available at:
Faucheux, S., Hue, C. and Nicolaï, I. (2006), “L'éco-innovation: une opportunité pour l’avenir du
développement durable”, Quelques éléments de bilan et de prospective aux niveaux européen
et international. Ateliers L’Ethique, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 41-56.
Gauthier, J. and Wooldridge, B. (2012), “Influences on sustainable innovation adoption: evidence
from leadership in energy and environmental design”, Business Strategy and the
Environment, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 98-110.
Green, K., Mcmeekin, A. and Irwin, A. (1994), “Technological trajectories and R&D for
environmental innovation in UK firms”, Futures, Vol. 26 No. 10, pp. 1047-1059.
BFJ Hair, J.F., Black, W.C., Babin, B.J., Anderson, R.E. and Tatham, R.L. (1998), Multivariate Data
Analysis, Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Han, J.K., Kim, N. and Srivastava, R.K. (1998), “Market orientation and organizational
performance: is innovation a missing link?”, The Journal of Marketing, Vol. 62 No. 4, pp. 30-45.
Horbach, J. (2008), “Determinants of environmental innovation – new evidence from German
panel data sources”, Research Policy, Vol. 37 No. 1, pp. 163-173.
1332 Horbach, J., Rammer, C. and Rennings, K. (2012), “Determinants of eco-innovations by type of
environmental impact – the role of regulatory push/pull, technology push and market pull”,
Ecological Economics, Vol. 78, pp. 112-122.
Huang, Y.C., Ding, H.B. and Kao, M.R. (2009), “Salient stakeholder voices: family business and
green innovation adoption”, Journal of Management and Organization, Vol. 15 No. 3,
pp. 309-326.
Jaworski, B. and Kohli, A.K. (1993), “Market orientation: antecedents and consequences”, Journal
of Marketing, Vol. 57 No. 3, pp. 53-70.
Korhonen, J. (2001), “Four ecosystem principles for an industrial ecosystem”, Journal of Cleaner
Production, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 253-259.
Lowe, P., Phillipson, J. and Lee, R.P. (2008), “Socio-technical innovation for sustainable food
chains: roles for social science”, Trends in Food Science and Technology, Vol. 19 No. 5,
pp. 226-233.
OECD (2009), “Sustainable manufacturing and eco-innovation: towards a green economy”, policy brief,
June, available at: (accessed 20 November 2010).
Ohmart, C. (2008), “Innovative outreach increases adoption of sustainable winegrowing practices
in Lodi region”, California Agriculture, Vol. 62 No. 4, pp. 142-147.
Paraschiv, D.M., Nemoianu, E.L., Langa, C. and Szabó, T. (2012), “Eco-innovation, responsible
leadership and organizational change for corporate sustainability”, Revista Amfiteatru
Economic, Vol. 14 No. 32, pp. 327-342.
Rennings, K. (2000), “Redefining innovation – eco-innovation research and the contribution from
ecological economics”, Ecological Economics, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 319-332.
Santini, C., Cavicchi, A. and Casini, L. (2013), “Sustainability in the wine industry: key questions
and research trends”, Agricultural and Food Economics, Vol. 1 No. 9, pp. 1-14.
Schaltegger, S. and Wagner, M. (2011), “Sustainable entrepreneurship and sustainability
innovation: categories and interactions”, Business Strategy and the Environment, Vol. 20
No. 4, pp. 222-237.
Smith, A., Voß, J.P. and Grin, J. (2010), “Innovation studies and sustainability transitions: the allure
of the multi-level perspective and its challenges”, Research Policy, Vol. 39 No. 4, pp. 435-448.
The Community Innovation Survey (CIS) (2008), “The harmonised survey questionnaire”,
available at:
2008.pdf/e06a4c11-7535-4003-8e00-143228e1b308 (accessed 20 September 2014).
The Community Innovation Survey (2010), “The harmonised survey questionnaire”, available at:
b9f2c70e-0c46-4f82-abeb-c7661f1f2166 (accessed 20 September 2014).
Theyel, G. (2000), “Management practices for environmental innovation and performance”,
International Journal of Operations and Production Management, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 249-266.
Tseng, M.-L., Wang, R., Chiu, A.S.F., Geng, Y. and Lin, Y.H. (2013), “Improving performance of green
innovation practices under uncertainty”, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 40, pp. 71-82.
United Nations Population Funds (2015), “Website overview”, available at:
world-population-trends (accessed 21 July 2015).
Vieira, L.M., De Barcellos, M.D., Hoppe, A. and Bittencourt, S. (2013), “An analysis of value in an Why food
organic food supply chain”, British Food Journal, Vol. 115 No. 10, pp. 1454-1472.
Vollenbroek, F.A. (2002), “Sustainable development and the challenge of innovation”, Journal of
Cleaner Production, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 215-223.
go green?
Weng, M.-H. and Lin, C.-Y. (2011), “Determinants of green innovation adoption for small and
medium-size enterprises (SMES)”, African Journal of Business Management, Vol. 5 No. 22,
pp. 9154-9163. 1333
About the authors
Marilia Bonzanini Bossle is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Graduate Programme in Business
Administration at UNISINOS, Brazil. She received her PhD at the Federal University of Rio
Grande do Sul, Brazil. Research areas of interest: eco-innovation, sustainable production and
consumption, sustainable issues related to food. Marilia Bonzanini Bossle is the corresponding
author and can be contacted at:
Marcia Dutra De Barcellos is an Adjunct Professor at the Postgraduate Programme in
Management at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. She received her PhD at the
Centre for Study and Research in Agribusiness (CEPAN/UFRGS). Research areas of interest: food
marketing, innovation, consumer behaviour, sustainability and international business strategy.
Luciana Marques Vieira received her PhD at the University of Reading, UK. She is a Lecturer
of International Business in the Management postgraduate programme at Unisinos, Brazil.
Research areas of interest: internationalization strategies, global chain management and
international operations strategy.

For instructions on how to order reprints of this article, please visit our website:
Or contact us for further details:
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without