School of Economics

2009 Discussion Papers

School of Economics Discussion Paper 09/15
October 2009

Traffic Lights and Food Choice: A Choice Experiment Examining the Relationship Between Nutritional Food Labels and Price

Kelvin Balcombe, Iain Fraser, Salvatore Di Falco

School of Economics
University of Kent

Abstract:

In this paper we investigate how consumers respond to the UK food label Traffic Light System (TLS). Employing a Choice Experiment (CE) we find that consumers appear to behave in a manner consistent with our expectations regarding the impact of the TLS nutrition label. In particular, we identify a strong preference on the part of respondents to avoid a basket of goods containing a mix of foods with any “Red” lights. We have also found that consumers have a hierarchy of importance in terms of perception of the various nutrients examined and clear behavioural differences associated with particular socio-economic characteristics confirming early research on the use of nutrition labels. Overall our results indicate significant heterogeneity in the attitudes and responses of consumers to food labels within and across socioeconomic strata in terms of the magnitude of WTP.

JEL Classification: I18, C35, Q18

Keywords: Nutrients, Traffic Light System, Choice Experiment, Bayesian Mixed Logit

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