Effects of Information and Taste on Label Preferences

Abstract: We endowed consumers with conventional apples and auctioned local, organic and organic-local apples to elicit consumers' valuation and the response to two experimental treatments: scientific information and taste. For both local and organic labels, which participants valued as partial substitutes, positive willingness to pay is conditional on distrusting the governmental food agencies. Information documenting the inconclusive scientific evidence in favor of organic and local production had mixed and small effects. Participants with positive valuation reacted to organoleptic characteristics when the new information favored the labeled apples. The observed behavior is more consistent with polarization against conventional products, rather than in favor of local and organic.

Reference: Costanigro, M et al. (2014) Is it love for local/organic or hate for conventional? Asymmetric effects of information and taste on label preferences in an experimental auction. Food Quality and Preference 31:94-105. Online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2013.08.008