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Understanding the impact of consumer-oriented assurance schemes: A review of voluntary standards and labels for the environmental sustainability of agri-food products

Koen Deconinck and May Hobeika

No 200, OECD Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Papers from OECD Publishing

Abstract: Assurance schemes (certifications and labels) are widespread in the agri-food sector. This paper reviews the landscape of existing schemes, and the evidence on whether labels change consumer behaviour, and whether assurance schemes achieve positive change on the farm. The impact of existing labels on shopping behaviours appears limited: even for well-established schemes, market shares remain low, as factors such as taste, health, or price appear to dominate consumer decisions. Regarding farm-level effects, not all crops, standards, and geographies have been equally well studied, and many studies find no effect; but when an effect is found, it is usually positive. The paper identifies actions to improve the effectiveness and inclusiveness of existing and new assurance schemes, and also highlights the new trend of labels which communicate environmental impacts, rather than conformity with process or production requirements.

Keywords: Certification; Credence goods; Food systems; Hypothetical bias; Voluntary sustainability standards (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D12 D91 L15 M3 Q50 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023-07-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr and nep-env
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