Consumer valuation of health attributes in food
In modern societies it seems that the pleasures of taste often encourage the consumption of fatty, salty and sweet foods, whereas growing health awareness discourages consumption of the same foods. Numerous studies find that education and diet healthiness are highly correlated and one possible explanation is that consumers with a longer education are better at understanding and appreciating the health implication of their diet than are consumers with a short education. In this study we estimate a hedonic model of consumer’s valuation of food characteristics that allows nutrients to influence utility both through their perceived effects on health and their effects on the taste of food. The model is estimated using purchase data from a consumer panel with comprehensive coverage of food purchases for 2500 Danish households. We find that it is differences in taste valuations, rather than differences in valuation of health effects, that explains the observed differences in dietary healthiness across consumers with different educational backgrounds.
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