Waiting for the Invisible Hand: Novel Products and the Role of Information in the Modern Market for Food
This paper places the modern spread of diet-related chronic disease in the United States within the context of more than a century of innovation in food processing technology, discovery in nutrition science, and corrective policy measures aimed at improving public health. We ask whether the current state of a airs represents a market failure, and if so what might be done about it. We argue that while today’s industrial food system has its advantages, the asymmetric information problems inherent to this system have resulted in a lemons-style break down in the market for processed foods. The appropriate policy response to such situations (namely, verifiable quality standards) is well known, but such policies are likely (in the short run) to reduce profit for existing large industrial producers of food. In light of the food industry’s long history of success at regulatory capture, we propose the formation of a new independent food standards agency devoted to protecting the interests of the American consumer.
|Date of creation:||Feb 2009|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: PO Box 646210, Pullman, WA 99164-646210|
Web page: http://faculty.ses.wsu.edu/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Reardon, Thomas & Codron, Jean-Marie & Busch, Lawrence & Bingen, R. James & Harris, Craig, 1999. "Global Change In Agrifood Grades And Standards: Agribusiness Strategic Responses In Developing Countries," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA), vol. 2(03/04).
- Diakalia Sanogo & William Masters, 2002.
"Welfare gains from quality certification of infant foods: Results from a market experiment in mali,"
Framed Field Experiments
00191, The Field Experiments Website.
- William A. Masters & Diakalia Sanogo, 2002. "Welfare Gains from Quality Certification of Infant Foods: Results from a Market Experiment in Mali," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 84(4), pages 974-989.
- John M. Crespi & St)phan Marette, 2001. "How Should Food Safety Certification be Financed?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(4), pages 852-861.
- Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1986.
"Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 796-821, August.
- Schmalensee, Richard., 1980.
"Product differentiation advantages of pioneering brands,"
1140-80., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
- Schmalensee, Richard, 1982. "Product Differentiation Advantages of Pioneering Brands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 349-65, June.
- Kelvin J. Lancaster, 1966. "A New Approach to Consumer Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 132.
- Trenton G. Smith, 2004.
"The McDonald’s Equilibrium. Advertising, empty calories, and the endogenous determination of dietary preferences,"
Social Choice and Welfare,
Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 23(3), pages 383-413, December.
- Smith, Trenton G, 2002. "The McDonald's Equilibrium: Advertising, Empty Calories, and the Endogenous Determination of Dietary Preferences," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0hx9x4jr, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
- Avishay Braverman, 1980. "Consumer Search and Alternative Market Equilibria," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(3), pages 487-502.
- Alston, Julian M. & Sumner, Daniel A. & Vosti, Stephen A., 2008. "Farm subsidies and obesity in the United States: National evidence and international comparisons," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 470-479, December.
- Parke Wilde, .
"Federal Communication about Obesity in the Dietary Guidelines and Checkoff Programs,"
Working Papers in Food Policy and Nutrition
27, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, revised May 2005.
- Parke E. Wilde, 2007. "Federal Communication about Obesity in the Dietary Guidelines and Checkoff Programs," Chapters, in: Obesity, Business and Public Policy, chapter 9 Edward Elgar Publishing.
- Roe, Brian E. & Teisl, Mario F., 1998. "The Economics Of Labeling: An Overview Of Issues For Health And Environmental Disclosure," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 27(2), October.
- Andrew Stivers, 2009. "Regulating Market Language: Market Failure in Descriptive Signals," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 23-41, March.
- Laibson, David I. & Gabaix, Xavier, 2006.
"Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets,"
4554333, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2006. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 505-540.
- Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2005. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," NBER Working Papers 11755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Glenn Ellison & Alexander Wolitzky, 2012.
"A search cost model of obfuscation,"
RAND Journal of Economics,
RAND Corporation, vol. 43(3), pages 417-441, 09.
- Darby, Michael R & Karni, Edi, 1973. "Free Competition and the Optimal Amount of Fraud," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 67-88, April.
- Unnevehr, Laurian J. & Jagmanaite, Evelina, 2008. "Getting rid of trans fats in the US diet: Policies, incentives and progress," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 497-503, December.
- Elitzak, Howard, 2001. "Food Marketing Costs at a Glance," Food Review: The Magazine of Food Economics, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, vol. 24(3).
- David Cutler & Edward Glaeser & Jesse Shapiro, 2003.
"Why Have Americans Become More Obese?,"
NBER Working Papers
9446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1994, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward & Cutler, David, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Smith, Trenton G. & Chouinard, Hayley H. & Wandschneider, Philip R., 2011.
"Waiting for the invisible hand: Novel products and the role of information in the modern market for food,"
Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 239-249, April.
- Trenton Smith & Hayley Chouinard & Philip Wandschneider, 2009. "Waiting for the Invisible Hand: Novel Products and the Role of Information in the Modern Market for Food," Working Papers 2009-07, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.
- Trenton G. Smith & Attila Tasnádi, 2005.
"A Theory of Natural Addiction,"
- Wim Verbeke, 2005. "Agriculture and the food industry in the information age," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 32(3), pages 347-368, September.
- K. K. Lancaster, 2010. "A New Approach to Consumer Theory," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1385, David K. Levine.
- Robert, Jacques & Stahl, Dale O, II, 1993. "Informative Price Advertising in a Sequential Search Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(3), pages 657-86, May.
- Smith Trenton G. & Stoddard Christiana & Barnes Michael G, 2009.
"Why the Poor Get Fat: Weight Gain and Economic Insecurity,"
Forum for Health Economics & Policy,
De Gruyter, vol. 12(2), pages 1-31, June.
- Trenton Smith & Christiana Stoddard & Michael G. Barnes, 2007. "Why the Poor Get Fat: Weight Gain and Economic Insecurity," Working Papers 2007-16, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.
- Nelson, Phillip, 1970. "Information and Consumer Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 311-29, March-Apr.
- Inas Rashad & Sara Markowitz, 2007. "Incentives in Obesity and Health Insurance," NBER Working Papers 13113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Chou, Shin-Yi & Grossman, Michael & Saffer, Henry, 2004.
"An economic analysis of adult obesity: results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System,"
Journal of Health Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 565-587, May.
- Shin-Yi Chou & Michael Grossman & Henry Saffer, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," NBER Working Papers 9247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wsu:wpaper:tgsmith-4. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Danielle Engelhardt)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.