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Partial Implementation of COOL: Economic Effects in the U.S. Seafood Industry


  • Siny Joseph

    () (Department of Resource Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • Nathalie Lavoie

    () (Department of Resource Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • Julie A. Caswell

    () (Department of Resource Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst)


Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL) was implemented on seafood in the United States on April 4, 2005. MCOOL exempts the foodservice sector and excludes processed seafood from labeling. This paper contributes to understanding the economics of the MCOOL law for seafood by showing that current partial implementation may have unintended consequences on the domestic supply chain. While labeling satisfies the market demand for information provision in one market, exemptions in the other market may create incentives for the diversion of imports, which are assumed to be lower in quality than domestic seafood, to the non-labeled sector. Analyzing alternate scenarios such as voluntary labeling shows that total welfare may be greatest under this scenario compared with partial MCOOL. Voluntary origin labeling of seafood by some U.S. retailers indicates there is no compelling market failure argument warranting partial MCOOL implementation. This work is therefore a step towards analyzing the effect of partial MCOOL policy in the seafood industry taking into consideration the nature of the industry.

Suggested Citation

  • Siny Joseph & Nathalie Lavoie & Julie A. Caswell, 2009. "Partial Implementation of COOL: Economic Effects in the U.S. Seafood Industry," Working Papers 2009-7, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:dre:wpaper:2009-7

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 1999. "Collective action as a social exchange," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 341-369, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Glynn T. Tonsor & Ted C. Schroeder & Jayson L. Lusk, 2013. "Consumer Valuation of Alternative Meat Origin Labels," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 676-692, September.

    More about this item


    Country of origin labeling; product differentiation; information asymmetry; seafood;

    JEL classification:

    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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