Which livestock production claims matter most to consumers?
Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in how their food is produced. Many studies have focused on consumers’ preferences and willingness-to-pay for specific production-related claims (labels) on food products. However, few studies have asked consumers to rank the importance of different production claims. In this study, we use a best-worst scaling approach to have consumers rank the importance of seven common production claims used on food products. Rankings are obtained across four product types: beef, milk, chicken, and eggs. Results of the study show that consumers often prefer specific components of more encompassing claims (e.g., animals were not treated with growth hormones, no GMOs used in production) as opposed to the broader, more encompassing claim itself (such as product is certified organic). The majority of preference shares were captured by the top three claims, though the order of these preferences appears to vary for meat and non-meat animals.
KeywordsLivestock production claims Best-worst scaling Consumer preference Labeling
This research was supported by USDA NIFA #ILLU-470-356 and funding from the American Jersey Cattle Association/National All-Jersey, Inc.
Compliance with ethical standards
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
- Center for Food Safety. 2014. State labeling initiatives. http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/issues/976/ge-food-labeling/state-labeling-initiatives. Accessed 20 Jan 2016.
- Economic Research Service (ERS). 2013. Organic production overview: Table 5. Certified organic livestock. http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/organic-production.aspx. Accessed 15 Jan 2016.
- Finn, A., and J.J. Louviere. 1992. Determining the appropriate response to evidence of public concern: The case of food safety. Journal of Public Policy and Marketing 11(1): 12–25.Google Scholar
- Hawkins, D. I., and D.L. Mothersbaugh. 2013. Consumer behavior: Building marketing strategy. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.Google Scholar
- Heng, Y., Peterson, H.H., and X. Li. 2013. Consumer attitudes toward farm-animal welfare: The case of laying hens. Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 38(3): 418–434.Google Scholar
- Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC). 2013. Humane farm animal care comprehensive animal welfare standards comparison by program: Chicken, beef cattle and pigs. http://certifiedhumane.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Comp.Standards.Comparison.Chart_.wappendix.11.26.13.pdf. Accessed 18 Dec 2015.
- Price, C. 2008. Sorting through the claims of the boastful egg. The New York Times, 16 September, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/17/dining/17eggs.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0. Accessed 20 Jan 2016.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2013. National organic program. http://www.ams.usda.gov. Accessed 10 Dec 2015.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDAa). 2011. What is organic? http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5103286. Accessed 10 Dec 2015.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDAb). 2011. Meat and poultry labeling terms. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/e2853601-3edb-45d3-90dc-1bef17b7f277/Meat_and_Poultry_Labeling_Terms.pdf?MOD=AJPERES. Accessed 10 Dec 2015.