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Health information and substitution between fish: Lessons from laboratory and field experiments

Marette, Stephan, Roosen, Jutta, Blanchemanche, Sandrine
Food policy 2008 v.33 no.3 pp. 197-208
canned fish, seafoods, health information, nutrition information, omega-3 fatty acids, methylmercury compounds, food contamination, tuna, sardines, willingness to pay, public health, field experimentation, household surveys, food intake, France
This paper compares results from a lab experiment and a field experiment conducted in France to evaluate the impact of health information on fish consumption. In both experiments, health information concerns a benefit (omega 3) and a risk (methylmercury). While the lab experiment focuses on two species, namely canned tuna and canned sardines, the field experiment offers a complete measure of the information impact on the choice of various species by consumers. Results from both experiments showed a significant preference change against canned tuna. In the lab experiment, the preference change was reflected by a decrease in WTP, while in the field experiment the preference change was reflected by a decrease in consumption. In the field experiment, among all fish consumed, only the decrease in consumption of canned tuna was statistically significant. A model calibrated to represent the demand for canned tuna allows for a comparison between the two experiments. It shows that the lab experiment suggests a smaller decrease in canned tuna demand compared to the field experiment.