Within the framework of European food safety measures, Reg. 1760/2000 and 1825/2000 have introduced mandatory traceability and relevant labelling into the beef sector. The paper analyses whether information on meat labels can be considered a useful instrument for consumers, facilitating the verification of quality. The purpose of the paper is, first, to evaluate whether meat information is used during food purchase, and secondly, by focussing on specific meat information, to assess consumer interest in some mandatory and voluntary information cues and to identify the determinants affecting the use of such cues. Data were collected by a telephone questionnaire in a survey conducted in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. The sample consisted of 1,025 consumers. We estimated 4 models based on the literature, and for all the equations we used a binary logit model. The analysis revealed that most consumers tend to use the meat label and also most of the mandatory and voluntary information reported. With regard to mandatory meat labelling, the most important information was considered to be the country of animal origin, in accordance with other empirical studies. With regard to voluntary information, some, like the system of cattle breeding and cattle feeding, seems to be of interest to the Italian consumer. The empirical analysis suggests two different consumer types. The consumers who declare they use meat labels tend to be young people, of female gender, with a low income, and who use the media as their principal source of information. These consumers could have a lot of time available for food purchasing and probably the possibility of reading most of the information reported on the food label, even if they do not have the capacity to process all the information. On the other hand, those consumers who read specific labelled information tend to have a good level of food knowledge or education and weight problems. This second type of consumer probably does not have much time for food purchasing and they select only that information in which they are mostly interested. Moreover, the analysis reveals that consumers tend to read only information that is quickly understood, and that can help them to evaluate the quality of meat products.


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