Growing their own: Unobservable quality and the value of self-provisioning
Many important food quality and safety attributes are unobservable at the point of sale, particularly in informal markets with weak reputation effects. Through a framed field experiment conducted in western Kenya, we show that farmers place a large premium on maize they have grown themselves, relative to that available for purchase. Providing information on the origin of maize, and on its taste and safety, reduces this gap. We conclude that information which is unavailable during typical market transactions is important to how consumers value maize, and that imperfect information may contribute to the prevalence of agricultural production for subsistence needs in developing countries.
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