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Abstract

Recent bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, a.k.a. mad cow disease) discoveries in Canadian and U.S. beef cattle have garnered significant media attention, which may have changed consumers’ meat-purchasing behavior. Consumer response is hypothesized and tested within a meat demand system in which response is measured using single-period dummy variables, longer-term dummy variables, and media indices that count positive and negative meat-industry articles. Parameters are estimated using retail scanner data, and cross-species price elasticities are calculated. Results suggest that the BSE events negatively impacted ground beef and chuck roasts, while positively impacting center-cut pork chop demand. Dummy variables explained the variation in meat-budget shares better than did media indices.

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