Suggested Bibliographic Reference: NAAFE Forum 2017 Proceedings, March 22-24, 2017. Compiled by Ann L. Shriver with assistance from Stefani Evers. North American Association of Fisheries Economists (NAAFE), Corvallis, 2017.
Recently, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended that pregnant and nursing women consume at least 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week as part of a well-balanced diet. Thus, the seafood market has been flooded with health benefit/risk information targeted at women to aid in achieving this policy goal. However, the economics literature is still unclear on whether additional information helps consumers make more informed choices regarding seafood. Using data from a seafood auction experiment, we use a finite mixture model to explore potential sources of heterogeneity among participants and their responses to health benefit/risk information. We identify three distinct groups of consumers: “Cautious Target Group,” “Intended Response Target Group,” and “Rational Consumers”. The majority of our sample exhibited the “intended response” given the tone of a particular information treatment i.e. decreased (increased) WTP for information discouraging (promoting) consumption of a fish species. The “Cautious Target Group” decreased their bids on average while exhibiting the largest variance of change in WTP, which we interpret as general uncertainty. The “Rational Consumers” exhibited the smallest variance of change in WTP and tended to increase bids on seafood products deemed beneficial to one’s health while decreasing bids on products considered potentially risky to one’s health. We conclude that information campaigns should be adapted to address the cautious consumers, which would likely lead to more successful achievement of the goals and recommendations of the USDA and HHS.