Consumer preferences and the international harmonization of organic standards
Harmonization of technical standards is often advocated as a means to remove technical barriers that reduce the welfare gains available from international trade. Organic standards are not currently harmonized internationally. If domestic organic standards reflect consumer tastes, and consumers have strong preferences for those standards, then harmonization to a common standard may reduce the benefits consumers receive from organic products. Through a consumer survey, conjoint analysis was used to explore the preferences of consumers in the US, the UK and Canada for organic food. The results suggest that consumers in the three countries do not have a strong attachment to the current national organic standards and that international harmonization may be a legitimate food policy goal.
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