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Food Authenticity, Technology and Consumer Acceptance

Author

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  • Hobbs, Jill E.
  • McDonald, Jillian
  • Zhang, Jing

Abstract

Traceability and authenticity issues have gained increasing prominence in food markets and create both opportunities and challenges for the food industry in providing credible information to consumers. Internal molecular tagging is an emerging technology with the potential to deliver traceability and authenticity assurances. A key question for the food industry in adopting new technologies is consumer acceptance. This paper explores consumer attitudes toward traceability and authenticity and the role of information in affecting consumer acceptance of new technologies, using molecular tagging as an example. Data were gathered from an online survey conducted in Canada in December 2010. To determine whether product-specific effects exist, two versions of the survey were used, focusing on salami and on apple juice. In a discrete choice experiment respondents were presented with choice sets describing an apple juice (salami) product containing different combinations of four attributes: traceability technology (molecular tag Vs RFID), price, brand, country of origin. Of particular interest was the effect of information on consumers’ choices. Therefore, respondents were randomly assigned to one of four information treatments: positive information on molecular tagging technology or further information on the issue of food authenticity and adulteration, or a combination of both. The control group was provided with neutral information on the technology and no additional information. Results from Conditional Logit and Random Parameter Logit models reveal that initial consumer acceptance of the technology is low, however, information matters. Highlighting the problems of adulteration reduces resistance more effectively than providing positive technology information, and the effects appear to be product specific across a juice product versus a processed meat product. Other proxy signals (country of origin, brand), resonate strongly with consumers and tended to have a larger impact on willingness-to-pay.

Suggested Citation

  • Hobbs, Jill E. & McDonald, Jillian & Zhang, Jing, 2012. "Food Authenticity, Technology and Consumer Acceptance," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 123881, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea12:123881
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    Keywords

    Agribusiness; Consumer/Household Economics; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies;

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