What do consumers want to know? An experimental study on consumers' preferences over labels content for food products and its effect on purchasing behavior.

Giacomo Degli Antoni (University of Parma)
Marco Faillo (University of Trento)
Virginia Cecchini Manara (University of Milan)


The sustainability of food production systems heavily depends on consumers’ choices and their demand for healthy and sustainable products. In this challenge for sustainability, a key role is played by the availability of information to final consumers, which poses several questions and tradeoffs.

Consumers might be driven to change their food consumption habits by accessing more information about the effect of food on their health, the impact of agri-food systems on the environment and natural resources, the economic sustainability of the supply chains, and the social impacts of the production process on communities and workers.

The load of information required to make informed choices might become excessive and potentially conflicting in the different dimensions of health, environmental, economic and social sustainability.

We will adopt an experimental approach to investigate two main research questions concerning the effect on consumers' behaviour of information on food characteristics. First, we will analyse what information concerning characteristics of food do consumers prefer to receive in order to make conscious food choices. Second, we will study if information provided on more dimensions at the same time – on potential effect of food on health, environment and economic/social sustainability - generate negative effects due to information overload, making the information provided on a single dimension more effective.

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