Consumer Knowledge of and Willingness to Pay for Shell Eggs with Animal Welfare-Related Labels
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Consumers are increasingly interested and concerned about the way farm animals are treated. Knowledge and understanding of agricultural practices are declining, causing consumers to be skeptical of where their food comes from and the labels placed on the food products that they purchase. This has caused an increase in branding efforts by third party organizations (this term is further defined in the definition of terms provided in Appendix A), thus creating more options for the American consumer. This study explored consumer knowledge of and willingness to pay for shell eggs that are labeled with animal welfare-related labels. This study identified five value-added labels related to farm animal welfare that are frequently found on shell egg packaging. Using an experimental study, we evaluated consumers’ knowledge and awareness of these labels and their customary purchasing tendencies when such labels are used. More importantly, this study examined how the use of different value-added labels related to farm animal welfare might affect consumers’ perceptions of the ethical treatment of hens on farm and their willingness to pay for labeled shell eggs. The findings of this study suggest that consumers have limited knowledge of the labels used in this study, however, exhibited high concern for farm animal welfare in general as well as high concern for the ethical treatment of hens on farms. Agricultural practitioners should use the knowledge and perceptions of consumers as communication efforts aid in differentiating traditional products from those containing superfluous labels. Future research should explore the marketing efforts of third-party programs to better understand their marketing success.