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Abstract

This paper uses data collected in the summer and fall of 2010 from a national, web-based survey of 1002 households to initiate the process of examining consumer inferences and valuations of food products making "sustainably produced” claims. A Best-Worst scaling framework was implemented to identify what consumers believe “sustainably produced” labels mean and their preferences for each of the individual sustainable farming practices. The best-worst survey method forces respondents to make trade-offs by simultaneously choosing the most and least preferred attributes. The measured level of concern is then applied to a ratio scale. The ability of a firm to differentiate their product hinges critically on an accurate understanding of the perceptions consumers hold regarding what a credence labelling claim implies. Building upon existing work evaluating other food attribute labels (e.g., genetically-modified products, region of origin, use of growth hormones) and the impact of consumer inferences (e.g., implicit associations made from explicitly provided information), this work begins to address gaps in the literature regarding food products with “sustainably produced” claims.

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