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Abstract

Choice Experiments are used to elicit Costa Rican consumer preferences for different attributes of organic and conventional vegetables in a hypothetical market. Focus groups identified a primary concern with the food safety and a secondary interest on the environmental impact of production practices. Two alternative national certification seals were proposed: 1) a "Blue Seal" certifying the Department of Public Health's approval for food safety; and 2) a "Green Seal" certifying Ministry of Agriculture's approval for environmentally sound production practices. Three other attributes were selected: "Appearance", "Size", and "Price". These attributes, together with the proposed labels, were presented in different combinations to a sample of 432 Costa Rican consumers at ten supermarkets located in the urban Central Valley. The results of the multinomial logit model demonstrate that the attributes "Appearance" and "Price" the have the strongest influence over the probability choosing alternative scenarios. Also, there was a significant preference for the "Blue Seal" and the "Blue Seal" and "Green Seal" combined. The socioeconomic variables turned out to be not significant in consumer choice. The results show a MWTP of 20% for the "Blue Seal" certifying healthy produce, and an additional 19% for the "Green Seal". The favorable acceptance of the certification seals on the part of the Costa Rican consumer can imply a large internal market for organic and ecologically healthy produce.

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