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Ethical food labels in consumer preferences

Katharina Bissinger (Institut of Agricultural Policy and Market Research, Justus-Liebig-Universität, Gießen, Germany)
Daniel Leufkens (Institut of Agricultural Policy and Market Research, Justus-Liebig-Universität, Gießen, Germany)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 7 August 2017




Since fairtrade labels are upcoming market instruments, the purpose of this paper is to identify and quantify consumers’ willingness to pay for fairtrade coffee products and tea. Thereby, this paper contributes to the discussion in favour of a non-private regulation of ethical food labels (FLs). Moreover, the paper provides information about the consumer behaviour of the German buying public.


The empirical analysis is based on homescan panel data of 13,000 representative German households, which includes actual purchase data of ground coffee, single-serve coffee, espresso, and tea for a five-year sample period from 2004 to 2008. As a methodological approach, the hedonic technique is used to model coffee and tea prices as a function of time, store, and product characteristics.


Regarding the variables of interest branding a product leads to an average price premium of 22.1 per cent, while the organic FL achieves an average price premium of 34.3 per cent. The highest average price premium of 43.1 per cent is ceteris paribus paid for fairtrade labels. In the case of fairtrade labels, tea products earn the highest implicit prices with 74.0 per cent, followed by ground coffee (54.9 per cent), espresso (24.7 per cent), and single-serve coffee (18.9 per cent).


The present analysis supplements the discussions around the willingness to pay for fairtrade certified products by the German buying public, a product differentiation between coffee products and the introduction of labelled tea. As the data set includes daily purchases, it allows analysis of consumer behaviour on a disaggregated level, given detailed information on prices, stores, origins, FLs, and so on.



The authors would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers and the Guest Editor Dr Mariarosaria Simeone for the helpful comments, which have improved the quality of the paper.

Moreover, the authors would like to thank the staff members of the Department of Agricultural and Food Marketing at the University Kassel under the Direction of Professor Dr Ulrich Hamm for providing the underlying GfK data set to the Institute of Agricultural Policies and Market Research at the University Giessen for further research.


Bissinger, K. and Leufkens, D. (2017), "Ethical food labels in consumer preferences", British Food Journal, Vol. 119 No. 8, pp. 1801-1814.



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