Food Demand Survey (FooDS) - November 2014

The latest edition of our Food Demand Survey (FooDS) is now out.

This month, consumer willingness-to-pay (WTP) for all food products (except steak, which was essentially unchanged) was up relative to October.  

Consumers continue to expect higher meat prices in the coming month (but not quite as much as last month).  Planned purchases of chicken were up relative to last month.

Three new ad hoc questions were added to the survey this month. Given the recent WTO ruling on the US mandatory country of origin labeling law (COOL) (see some discussion of the issues here), several questions were added to gauge consumers' knowledge and perceptions of different meat origin labels (thanks to Glynn Tonsor at K-State who provided suggestions on the questions).  

The first question asked: “Which of the following are grocery stores required by law to label for fresh meat products?” Participants were shown seven issues and were asked to select “required”,” not required”, or “I don’t know”, for each issue.  

64% of respondents believe nutritional content information is required to be labeled by law.  Over a third (39%) thought there was mandatory labeling for use of hormones.  For the remaining five issues, the plurality of consumers chose “I don’t know.”  This includes the three issues related to MCOOL.  About 40% of consumers did not know whether grocery stores required to label where an animal was born, raised, or slaughtered.  More consumers than not thought grocery stores were not required to label such origin information.  Only 22% of consumers thought grocery stores were required to label where an animal was born.   

Secondly, (and only after answering the preceding question), participants were asked: “What portion of pork products consumed in the United States is covered by current mandatory country of origin labeling laws?” The plurality, 23.79% of participants, responded saying that 40% to 59% of pork products consumed in the United Sates is covered under mandatory country of origin (COOL) laws.  17% though no pork products were required to be labeled, and about 12% though all pork products were required to be labeled.

he third question pertains to consumer’s willingness-to-pay for a 12oz boneless rib eye beef steak dependent on the country of origin. Respondents were randomly assigned to one of four groups that differed in the label given to the ribeye steak.  On fourth of participants were asked: “ What is the most you would be willing to pay for a 12oz boneless rib eye beef steak that was labelled as: Born, Raised, and Slaughtered in the U.S.?”  Other respondents answered similar questions except the labels were changed to: Born in Canada, Raised and Slaughtered in U.S.; Born and Raised in Canada, Slaughtered in the U.S.; or Product of Canada and the U.S.  Respondents answered by clicking a response category with a range of dollar values such as, $0, $0.01 to $2.99, . . ., $13.00 to $15.99, $16 or more.  Answers were used to estimate the mean WTP for each of the four groups.

Results indicate consumers valued beef that was born or born and raised in Canada $0.89 and $1.05 less, respectively, than beef that was born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S.  Consumers do not distinguish between beef born in Canada and born and raised in Canada; the difference in WTP for these two labels ($6.11 vs. $5.95) is not statistically different.  Mean WTP for the label “product of Canada and the U.S.”, $6.55,  is higher than the other labels that mentioned Canada and only $0.45 lower than “Born, Raised and Slaughtered in the U.S.”, a difference that is not statistically different.