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Abstract

This paper examines potential consumer demand for ecolabeled apples. Since apples are purchased by 90% of U.S. households, we are able to investigate the choices of a large and diverse cross section of consumers. Focusing on a single agricultural product such as apples enables us to investigate more specific and realistic consumer choices. This paper also examines how different types of ecolabel claims might affect consumer demand. Ecolabels may vary in terms of the comprehensiveness of their environmental claims and the amount of proof substantiating claims. Ecolabels might claim to reduce only a single environmental impact or they might claim to reduce multiple environmental impacts. There may be no proof for the claims other than seller reputation or the claims might be documented and verified by a highly reputable third party (e.g. government agency, private firm, non-profit environmental group). Each unique combination of claim comprehensiveness and proof represents a different ecolabel and thus a different good. This paper examines how two levels of claim comprehensiveness and two forms of proof affect consumer demand. Finally, this paper examines factors affecting consumer demand for ecolabels. These factors include prices, income, household size and education. They also include familiarity with the claim and personal motivations such as improved health and environmental concerns. Both the purchase location of apples and whether or not an individual normally buys organic are also examined.

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