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Truthful, Misguiding Labels: The Implications of Labeling Production Processes rather than their Outcomes

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  • Costanigro, Marco
  • Deselnicu, Oana
  • Kroll, Stephan

Abstract

Using a best-worst ranking exercise we compare the inferences made by consumers regarding the nutritional value and healthiness of fluid milk and soymilk beverages under several combinations of three labeling regimes: front label, back label ( including the nutritional information panel), and an index measure of nutrition value, the Ratio of Recommended to Restricted nutrients (RRR score). We find that, when only front label (process) information is available, consumers tend to overstate the relevance of certain product attributes (e.g. organic) and underestimate the effect of others (soy vs. cow milk). Indeed, product rankings significantly change when the information treatment includes the nutritional panel and/or RRR scores (outcome labels). Interestingly, nutritional panel and RRR scores are found to induce similar product rankings. A similar experiment is conducted to measure consumers’ ability to assess the (relative) environmental impact of alternative milk and soymilk products. We find that rankings and judging criteria are much more heterogeneous for this task, suggesting that environmental impact information contained in existing labels is minimal or subjectively interpreted.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington with number 124615.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea12:124615

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Keywords: Food and Agricultural Marketing; Agricultural and Food Policy; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Marketing;

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  1. Gilles Grolleau & Julie A. Caswell, 2005. "Interaction Between Food Attributes in Markets: The Case of Environmental Labeling," Working Papers 2005-5, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics.
  2. Zhifeng Gao & Ted C. Schroeder, 2009. "Consumer responses to new food quality information: are some consumers more sensitive than others?," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 40(3), pages 339-346, 05.
  3. Loureiro, Maria L. & McCluskey, Jill J. & Mittelhammer, Ronald C., 2001. "Assessing Consumer Preferences For Organic, Eco-Labeled, And Regular Apples," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 26(02), December.
  4. Caswell, Julie A. & Mojduszka, Eliza M., 1996. "Using Informational Labeling To Influence The Market For Quality In Food Products," Working Papers 25989, Regional Research Project NE-165 Private Strategies, Public Policies, and Food System Performance.
  5. Jayson L. Lusk & Brian C. Briggeman, 2009. "Food Values," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(1), pages 184-196.
  6. Cason, Timothy N. & Gangadharan, Lata, 2002. "Environmental Labeling and Incomplete Consumer Information in Laboratory Markets," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 113-134, January.
  7. J. Scott Long & Jeremy Freese, 2006. "Regression Models for Categorical Dependent Variables using Stata, 2nd Edition," Stata Press books, StataCorp LP, edition 2, number long2, March.
  8. Hausman, Jerry A. & Ruud, Paul A., 1987. "Specifying and testing econometric models for rank-ordered data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 83-104.
  9. Berning Joshua P & Chouinard Hayley H & McCluskey Jill J, 2008. "Consumer Preferences for Detailed versus Summary Formats of Nutrition Information on Grocery Store Shelf Labels," Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-22, August.
  10. Flynn, Terry N. & Louviere, Jordan J. & Peters, Tim J. & Coast, Joanna, 2007. "Best-worst scaling: What it can do for health care research and how to do it," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 171-189, January.
  11. Beggs, S. & Cardell, S. & Hausman, J., 1981. "Assessing the potential demand for electric cars," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 1-19, September.
  12. Golan, Elise H. & Kuchler, Fred & Mitchell, Lorraine, 2000. "Economics Of Food Labeling," Agricultural Economics Reports 34069, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  13. Matsumoto Shigeru, 2004. "Consumers' Responses to Front vs. Back Package GM Labels in Japan," Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-25, April.
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