USDA/ERS Article Questions Benefits of COOL to Consumers

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USDA/ERS Article Questions Benefits of COOL to Consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Because food manufacturers infrequently label food as "Made in the USA," the absence of such voluntary labeling suggests that suppliers believe either consumers do not care where their food comes from or prefer the imported product, according to Barry Krissoff and Fred Kuchler, who authored "Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling - Will It Benefit Consumers?" in the May 2007 Amber Waves, published by USDA's Economic Research Service.

The article is drawn from Country-of-Origin Labeling: Theory and Observation originally published in January 2004 and updated in 2007.

In their piece, the authors discuss efforts to determine whether country-of-origin labeling will benefit consumers.

"Some consumers may actually prefer such labels, but this group may be too small for markets to satisfy their demands profitably," wrote the authors. "In this case, consumers who value the information may be better off with mandatory COOL, depending on how much they are willing to pay for label information and the cost of providing it. Even for these consumers, however, costs could exceed the benefits. For consumers who are indifferent to labels, the higher prices resulting from mandatory COOL would make them unequivocally worse off."

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