Organized Symposium at IAAE meetings on ‘Recent Topics In Food Choice Analysis’.

Organizer: Riccardo Scarpa (Waikato Management School and University of Technology Sydney, Australia)
Title: Recent Topics In Food Choice Analysis
Theme: The profession has been witnessing a rapid growth in research interest in the use of tools for choice analysis and in the development of experimental methods for food choice data collection. The objective of the symposium is that of putting together leading practitioners in this field to exchange views and report results on recent trends and experiences. This should enable participants to take stock of the range of emerging issues and trends in this field.
Background and focus: The background is represented by the challenges posed by modeling of food choice in a variety of decision contexts, experimental data and determinants. The focus will be primarily on the selected sample of works by leading practitioners in the field who will provide experiences from a wide range of approaches, from those psychologically based, to those investigating the effects of context and social pressure. A secondary focus will be put on the econometric techniques suitable to each problem and their limitations.
Paper 1:  Food choice and risk perceptions and attitudes
Ellen Goddard (Department of Rural Economy, University of Alberta, Canada):
Recent and frequent food safety incidents have changed consumer food purchases and may have changed risk perceptions and attitudes towards affected foods. Although the longitudinal measurement of risk perceptions and attitudes has been recognized as an appropriate way of establishing whether individuals respond to food safety incidents, there has been less research on how to incorporate risk perceptions and risk attitudes into consumer demand models. Two examples of food choices are considered in this research, the first combines panel data (Nielsen Homescan™ data) over a ten year period with attitudinal data for the same people at two time periods and examines two stage translog meat demand systems for clusters identified by their risk perceptions and risk attitudes; the second makes use of stated preference data on traceable and animal tested beef (traditionally raised and conventional pork) and the same risk perception and attitude constructs  in choice models for clusters identified by risk perceptions and risk attitudes. The additional richness in the understanding of consumer behaviour  in the presence of heterogeneous risk perceptions and risk attitudes is illustrated for revealed and stated preferences. For the stated preference data the formal cluster approach is compared to latent class models for the same data. From a policy perspective understanding the size and reactions of different segments of the population can help predict the possible impact of future food safety incident responses. Depending on risk perceptions and risk attitudes some segments will ignore the incident while others will stop purchasing the food and perhaps never return to regular purchasing.
Discussant:  Jutta Roosen (Technische Universität München , Germany)

Paper 2: Food choice among regional and/or organic products
Jutta Roosen and Barbara Köttl (TUM School of Management, Germany)
Germany is the biggest organic food market in Europe. Nevertheless, the share of organic products in total food sales is relatively small (about 3.5 per cent). After periods of sustained growth, organic food products face fierce competition from marketing initiatives for local products. Local food may be successful in the dedifferentiation of organic products as it addresses similar choice motives such as 'environmentally sound', 'sustainable' and work on the heuristic of 'trust' and 'proximity'. We will present results of a survey of about 750 German consumers analysing their food choice motives and evaluating their willingness to pay via a choice experiment, where the two attributes 'organic' and 'local' are considered in addition to specific organic brands that rooted in local origin. Results are differentiated between unprocessed (carrots) and processed products (beer and bread).
Discussant:  Sean Cash (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA)

Paper 3: Food choice and inner psychological processes
Carola Grebitus (Arizona State University, USA) One of the great challenges of Western societies is to understand food choices more deeply for example with regard sustainability. Consumers purchasing food choose from a set of more or less sustainable alternatives. To support them to select the more sustainable option, it is relevant to understand choice making. Economic theory mainly includes economic variables e.g. prices and consumer socio-demographics in empirical studies to explain choices. Inner psychological processes, e.g. personality and values, influence choices but remain oftentimes unexplored. They are explained by psychology. Combining economics and psychology promises to better understand consumer choices. This paper aims to analyze determinants of (sustainable) food choice including inner psychological processes as explanatory variables in discrete choice experiments. Results from several cross sectional studies are presented analyzing the effect of involvement, personality and values on sustainable food choice using examples such as local food and ecological footprints. This enables decision makers in policy and industry to act efficiently and effectively regarding consumers’ sustainable food choice. The analysis highlights triggers of changes in consumer behavior, leading to optimal sustainable political regulatory and incentive design.
Discussant:  Ellen Goddard (Department of Rural Economy, University of Alberta, Canada)
Paper 4: Food choice in natural contexts
Sean B. Cash:  (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA)

Field experiments have gained popularity in economic research lately, with prominent economists both refining the methodological tools and advocating for the widespread adoption of the approach (List, 2011).  The importance of giving up “control” for “context” (Harrison and List, 2004) is especially obvious in the context of food choice, as a large and growing set of findings in psychology, marketing, and behavioral economics has shown that subtle environmental influences can reduce or in some settings even overwhelm the higher cognitive factors (e.g., price, search attributes) that are more typically modeled in economic models (Wansink, 2007).  These are still the most salient features of market settings, however, and rightly remain a key focus of agricultural economic research.  The approach that we consider here is the value of conducting economic studies in framed field settings, where participants are aware that they are taking part in an experiment, but do so in the context in which they might normally be expected to make similar choices – such as in restaurants, supermarkets, and cafeterias.  This presentation argues the benefits of the framed field study approach in studies of food choice, presents the results of a few recent studies that use this approach, discusses technological innovations that may simplify the conduct of such studies, and explores challenges facing investigators interested in adopting this approach.
Discussant:  Mara Thiene (University of Padova, Italy)
Paper 5:  Sparkling wine choice from supermarket shelves
Mara Thiene (University of Padova, Italy):
We present the analysis of revealed preference data integrated with pivoted stated preference data on sparkling white wine (prosecco) from choices recorded “at the shelf” in retail outlets in the origin of production. We attempt to discriminate the role of attitudes in choice of types of prosecco differing in terms of degree of local certification and brand status. Latent class attitudinal models underlying different hypotheses on the role of attitudes in choice are compared and discussed. The level of support of local production by local consumers is assessed and evaluated on the basis of its motivation.
Discussant: Carola Grebitus (Arizona State University, USA)