Consumer acceptance of a new traceability technology: A discrete choice application to ginseng
A new technology has been developed for enhanced authenticity and traceability of food and natural health products. While the paths for authorization through Health Canada are clearly laid out, consumer response is uncertain. This thesis examines consumer acceptance of this new technology and to what extent it might interact with currently existing signals of traceability in the marketplace, such as brand, manufacturers' guarantees, or place of production labeling. It makes use of two main research stages: qualitative, which consists of the literature review and focus group interviews, and quantitative, which consists of a consumer survey with a discrete choice experiment applied to a particular ginseng product. Results of conditional logit estimations, conducted with choice experiment data from an Ontario panel, reveal that consumers value molecular tags as an acceptable signal of traceability and authenticity to ensure safety and quality of ginseng products. Canadian consumers treat molecular tags independently from other existing authenticity signals. Results indicate that although molecular tag carries a positive premium ($3.43 per bottle), this is not the largest premium among attributes examined. Consumers are most willing to pay for ginseng products labeled with a Canadian guarantee, followed by products labelled 'product of Canada', then by local brand and molecular tag, respectively. Therefore, it would be possible to charge premiums for the information carried by molecular tagging technology in ginseng products.