Australian Consumers' Concerns and Preferences for Food Policy Alternatives
Results from a 2007 Australian consumer survey conducted at a large farmers market are used to explore the hypothesis that consumers who are more concerned about certain types of food labeling information, particularly information related to food production attributes, are more likely to support policies which help develop farmers markets and support mandatory labeling policies. Product information and attributes such as Country-of-Origin, No Growth Hormones Used, Free Range and Animals Treated Humanely and Environmentally-friendly appear to be very important to consumers. It appears that respondents want increased government involvement in developing consistent food labelling standards for these attributes and support mandatory food labelling policies, however, respondents are split between whether third-parties or the Australian government should oversee regulation of the program. Some respondents appear to view a mandatory labelling policy as a method to improve competitiveness and sustainability of small food producers who want to use labelling to differentiate themselves. Respondents also tended to support the government subsidizing the development of farmers markets. Respondents viewed FM as an opportunity to gain additional information or purchase foods that have credence attributes such as pesticide-free. Thus, policies supporting FM may help alleviate market failures related to asymmetric information and lack of choice.
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