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How country of origin influences Chinese consumers' evaluation of imported milk?

Yan Zhang (State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-Ecosystems, College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China)
Shaosheng Jin (China Academy for Rural Development (CARD), School of Public Affairs, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China)
Yu Yvette Zhang (Department of Agricultural Economics, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)
Xiaohua Yu (Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, University of Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany)

China Agricultural Economic Review

ISSN: 1756-137X

Article publication date: 22 September 2020

Issue publication date: 12 January 2021




The purpose of this study is to decompose the effects of country-of-origin labeling (COOL) into multiple dimensions—macrolevel image, related to the country image, and microlevel image, related to dairy industry/product attributes—and investigate how each dimension affects Chinese consumers' evaluation of imported milk.


This study adopted the Becker–DeGroot–Marschak (BDM) auction mechanism to elicit consumers' willingness to pay (WTP) for milk from different countries (New Zealand, Australia, Germany, France and China). The experiment was conducted with 348 shoppers at supermarkets in three major cities of China (Hangzhou, Wuhan and Shijiazhuang). The study subject was ultrahigh-temperature processing (UHT) milk (200 mL Tetra Pak aseptic brick package).


The results show that Chinese consumers are willing to pay a premium for UHT milk from New Zealand, Australia, Germany and France compared to domestic milk, and the premiums are 59.4, 58.9, 57.9, and 52.9% respectively. Both microlevel and macrolevel images exert a substantial influence on consumers' WTP, and the microlevel image has a greater impact on consumers' evaluation of milk than the macrolevel image. Particularly, the macropolitical, microtechnology/quality and microdesign/package dimensions have a positive influence on WTP for milk.


This study contributes to the existing literature in introducing the country-of-origin image (COI) construct with different dimensions to get in-depth knowledge about the country-of-origin (COO) effect in food or agricultural economics.



The authors would like to thank research assistant Haiyue Guo, Yue Jin, Rao Yuan, Zhanyi Shi, Yu Jiang, Xuwen Gao and Ye Jiang for their helpful support. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support from the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (lzuzbky-2020-24), the Major Program of the Key Research Institute of Chinese Ministry of Education (15JJD790032), the Key Consulting Project of Chinese Academy of Engineering (2020-XZ-29), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71273233, 71333011, 71703150).


Zhang, Y., Jin, S., Zhang, Y.Y. and Yu, X. (2021), "How country of origin influences Chinese consumers' evaluation of imported milk?", China Agricultural Economic Review, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 150-172.



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