Beef with environmental and quality attributes: Preferences of environmental group and general population consumers in Saskatchewan, Canada
We attempt to quantify and qualify the preferences of consumers for beef with a number of environmental and food quality attributes. Our goal is to evaluate the viability of a proposed food co-operative based in the Wood River watershed of southern Saskatchewan, Canada. The food co-operative was designed to provide a price premium to producers who adopted alternative management practices. In addition, the study evaluated the acceptance of a proposed food co-operative by consumer that had environmental interests as compared to the general population. Conjoint analysis was used to determine the trade-off and relative value of beef with the following production and purchasing characteristics: (a) use of hormones, antibiotics and vaccination in production; (b) method of obtaining the beef including monthly or yearly purchase contracts or a local market; (c) price relative to beef purchased from the local grocery store; and (d) impact on the river ecosystem. Consumers from environmental groups had stronger environmental and food quality preferences than individuals from the general population. However, consumers from both groups expressed a willingness to pay higher prices for food that had these attributes. It was uncertain whether the magnitude of the premium, in combination with a desire not to enter a long-term purchasing commitment, would be large enough to encourage farmers to adopt the alternative management.
KeywordsConjoint analysis Consumer preferences Credence attributes Environmental goods and services Riparian zones Water quality
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Financial support for this research was provided by the Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development Saskatchewan (CARDS) administered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The authors would also like to thank the Centre for Studies in Agriculture, Law and the Environment (CSALE) at the University of Saskatchewan and all of the survey participants and the producers in the Wood River watershed for their assistance in this and the larger Wood River Co-operative project.
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