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Consumer preference and willingness to pay for the traceability information attribute of infant milk formula: Evidence from a choice experiment in China

Shijiu Yin (School of Economics, Qufu Normal University, Rizhao, China)
Ying Li (Research Center for Food Safety Co-governance of Shandong Province, Qufu Normal University, Rizhao, China)
Yingjun Xu (School of Economics, Qufu Normal University, Rizhao, China)
Mo Chen (Research Center for Food Safety Co-governance of Shandong Province, Qufu Normal University, Rizhao, China)
Yiqin Wang (Qufu Normal University, Rizhao, China)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 5 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a basis for government decision makers regarding the gradual popularisation of traceable infant milk formula (IMF) and the construction of a safe food market system.

Design/methodology/approach

The data were collected from 1,225 randomly selected consumers in Shandong Province, China using a choice experiment. The authors used the mixed logit model to determine consumer willingness to pay (WTP) for IMF profiles with different levels of five attributes: traceability information, brand, country of origin, place of sale and price.

Findings

Results indicated that traceability information was more important than brand or country of origin for Chinese consumers. In terms of WTP for different levels of traceability information, grazing information was the most preferred by the respondents. The order of preference with regards to country of origin and brand attributes suggests that consumers prefer “foreign milk powder” to domestic products. The difference in consumer WTP between IMF sold in drugstores and in supermarkets is minimal. The higher the food safety risk perception, the higher the WTP for traceability information and the higher the WTP for “foreign milk powder (brand or country of origin)” compared with domestic products. In addition, the differences in the WTP of various risk perception groups between IMF sold in drugstores and in supermarkets are minimal.

Originality/value

This study subdivides traceability information into three levels (i.e. cow grazing, IMF producing and IMF selling) based on supply chain processes. It then compares consumer preference for the traceability information attribute with those of other attributes, such as brand, country of origin and place of sale. This research is valuable to members of the academe, policy makers and food suppliers.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of this study through the following: Project Nos 71203122 and 21407090.

Citation

Yin, S., Li, Y., Xu, Y., Chen, M. and Wang, Y. (2017), "Consumer preference and willingness to pay for the traceability information attribute of infant milk formula: Evidence from a choice experiment in China", British Food Journal, Vol. 119 No. 6, pp. 1276-1288. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-11-2016-0555

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited