Food labels are useful, say consumers

In a week which saw beef producers criticising the confusion caused by food labelling on packs of beef – and the ‘smoke and mirrors’ used by retailers to exploit this – new research has highlighted that consumers do pay attention to label claims.

Looking at the pork sector, researchers at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) have found that more than a third of consumers would be willing to pay a significant price premium for fresh products labelled as ‘animal friendly’. The new research also found that, in addition, they would be willing to pay more for pork which was labelled as ‘local’ and ‘low-fat’ - while an ‘organic’ label was less valued.

Looking at how customers respond to marketing information on fresh pork the researchers investigated whether there was any trade-off between the labels or if they complemented each other to see if there was a benefit to bundling animal welfare with other desirable attributes.

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The work found that pro-welfare customers were willing to pay a price premium for animal-friendly pork and this could be increased if the product was also labelled as ‘local’, or if it was also ‘low fat’, while adding an ‘organic’ label made the product only marginally more attractive.

“Although the label ‘animal friendly’ is the most valued label by UK consumers, the results suggest that consumers' positive values for other desirable food attributes should be considered when pricing and designing positioning strategies for animal-friendly pork products,” said lead researcher Faical Akaichi, a research economist at SRUC.



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