Global food markets in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere, are experiencing a rapid growth in the number of private party and government environmental labeling programs. Most current ecolabels are defined by standards related to multiple environmental practices. This study presents an analysis of consumers’ choice of food products, in this case apples with or without ecolabels, where the ecolabels present varying combinations of farm practices with implications for environmental quality. These practices include: whether or not standards are met specific to on-farm pest management; presence of stream or groundwater quality protection; presence of on-farm wildlife habitat provision; and which certifier provides the guarantee. Factors influencing consumer preferences for ecolabel attributes are evaluated as a choice-based conjoint analysis. To empirically test the effect of heterogeneity of consumers on preferences for ecolabel attributes, surveys were conducted in a stratified sample in three regions (Portland, Oregon; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Rhode Island) with a focus on sampling across shoppers at different types of markets including conventional supermarkets, farmers markets, natural food stores and food co-ops. Results show that preferences for ecolabels are most strongly driven by type of pesticide usage, in particular for non-synthetic pesticides which were identified with organic production. With an appropriate price premium, ecolabels with an alternative pest management practice and other environmental practices were preferred to conventionally produced apples. These results varied according to age and gender of respondents, and type of store at which respondents shopped.
©2012 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston