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Private Labels and International Trade: Trading Variety for Volume


  • Emily Blanchard
  • Tatyana Chesnokova

    () (School of Economics, University of Adelaide)

  • Gerald Willmann


This paper explores the role of pooled-producer, e.g. private label, trade intermediation n shaping the range and diversity of exports. Direct sales maintain a firm's unique product characteristics (`brand equity'), whereas trade through an intermediary can take two forms--either a wholesaling arrangement that (also) maintains the exporter's unique brand but imposes a higher marginal cost (via double marginalization), or a `private label' contract under which the firm's product is pooled with other rms' output and re-sold under a new private label brand created by the intermediary. This paper focuses on the latter, and shows that the availability of the private label option results in greater total export volumes and lower average prices for consumers, but fewer independent varieties available in equilibrium. Welfare implications are mixed: consumers trade variety for volume, firms face greater competition from the new pooled-products, and intermediaries capture much of the gains from trade.

Suggested Citation

  • Emily Blanchard & Tatyana Chesnokova & Gerald Willmann, 2013. "Private Labels and International Trade: Trading Variety for Volume," School of Economics Working Papers 2013-01, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:adl:wpaper:2013-01

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anders Akerman, 2018. "A theory on the role of wholesalers in international trade based on economies of scope," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 51(1), pages 156-185, February.
    2. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2010. "Wholesalers and Retailers in U.S. Trade (Long Version)," CEP Discussion Papers dp0968, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    3. Kunal Dasgupta & Jordi Mondria, 2012. "Quality Uncertainty and Intermediation in International Trade," Working Papers tecipa-462, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    4. Iacovone, Leonardo & Javorcik, Beata & Keller, Wolfgang & Tybout, James, 2015. "Supplier responses to Walmart's invasion in Mexico," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 1-15.
    5. Gabriel Felbermayr & Benjamin Jung, 2011. "Trade Intermediation and the Organization of Exporters," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(4), pages 634-648, September.
    6. Gabrielsen, Tommy Staahl & Sorgard, Lars, 2007. "Private labels, price rivalry, and public policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 403-424, February.
    7. Mills, David E, 1995. "Why Retailers Sell Private Labels," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(3), pages 509-528, Fall.
    8. Gabriel Felbermayr & Benjamin Jung, 2011. "Trade Intermediation and the Organization of Exporters," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(4), pages 634-648, September.
    9. Head, Keith & Jing, Ran & Swenson, Deborah L., 2014. "From Beijing to Bentonville: Do multinational retailers link markets?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 79-92.
    10. Emek Basker & Pham Hoang Van, 2010. "Imports "Я" Us: Retail Chains as Platforms for Developing-Country Imports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 414-418, May.
    11. Bergès-Sennou Fabian & Bontems Philippe & Réquillart Vincent, 2004. "Economics of Private Labels: A Survey of Literature," Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-25, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Raff, Horst & Schmitt, Nicolas, 2015. "Retailing and international trade: A survey of the literature," Economics Working Papers 2015-02, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
    2. Swati Dhingra & Andrew Bernard, 2015. "Contracting and the Division of the Gains from Trade," 2015 Meeting Papers 298, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item


    Private Labels; Export Mode; Intermediaries; Heterogeneous Firms; International Retailers;

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General

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