Does Consumer Time Preference Affect Label Use?

Alessia Cavaliere, Elisa De Marchi, Alessandro Banterle


Diet-related chronic diseases, such as overweight and obesity, are worrisome not only from a medical point of view, but also in terms of monetary expenditures, these health problems are strictly linked to sizeable sanitary costs (Chou et al., 2004; Yaniv et al., 2009; Cawley and Meyerhoefer, 2012; Ruhm, 2012). These costs are mainly due to the purchase of medical care (direct costs), and to the loss of productivity caused by hill-health (indirect costs) (Rosin, 2008). To challenge these problems and improve public health it is of particular importance to study the determinants of food consumption, and understand the best way to effectively address consumers toward healthy eating.
To this purpose, one of the most investigated topics in the last decades has been the role of food-related information. Economists have found evidences that food information can exert a positive effect in increasing consumer nutrition knowledge and in promoting healthier consumption. Hence, policy makers have proposed different policy interventions to provide consumers with more, and more detailed, information. These information measures have included the diffusion of dietary guidelines, the promotion of nutritional education programs in the schools, and also specific campaigns to increase public awareness concerning fruit and vegetables consumption or the negative effects of some unhealthy food and drinks.
In this context, another and maybe more direct way to provide consumers with food-related information is represented by on-package food labels, which currently constitute the principal tool through which consumers can easily acquire information about food products. The key role of food labels in making individuals able to do more conscious diet choices has been well established by the main findings of the economic literature (Drichoutis et al., 2006; Drichoutis et al., 2008a; Drichoutis et al., 2009; Norgaard and Brunso 2009; Barreiro-Hurlè et al., 2010). Therefore, given the importance of on-packaging information, the EU has recently introduced the EU Regulation No. 1169/2011, published in October 2011, in order to make labels even more effective and boost their utility for consumers. This new low has established some rules concerning mandatory information, nutritional facts and also the graphical standards allowed on food labels in all the EU. Nonetheless, consumers are not always willing to make use of the information reported on labels, and this makes of crucial importance to investigate and understand which factors can be able to discourage consumers in using labels.

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ISSN 2194-511X


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