|dc.description.abstract||Genetic modification (GM) can provide benefits for consumers, producers, and the environment; however, general opposition towards the use of GM in food continues, especially GM-animals. This opposition seems to be a consequence of the lack of perceived consumer benefits.
This research investigates the role clearly stated consumer benefits may play in the adoption process of GM-salmon. AquaBounty Technologies have developed a transgenic salmon, which is likely to be available for consumption in the next couple of years. Their technology enables the GM-salmon to grow twice as fast as conventional salmon year round, thereby decreasing the production cycles and feed usage. These advantages will presumably lead to a lower market price for the GM-salmon. The benefit one product holds over another is seen as its relative advantage; the benefits used in this study are a price advantage and increased nutritional values.
To study the effect of benefits on consumer acceptance, best-worst scaling was used to gather stated preferences (SP), i.e. intentions, while a field choice experiment was used to gather revealed preferences (RP), i.e. actual purchasing behaviour. These methods were chosen due to the hypothetical nature of SP; the field choice experiment could validate the results from best-worst scaling. Therefore, this methodology sets out to test the validity of best-worst scaling and to examine whether consumers acted as they intended since consumers do not always act as they say they will when it comes to adopting an innovation. Additionally, a food neophobia scale (FNS) was included to measure the effect consumers’ preference for novel foods may have on their willingness to try GM-salmon.
A fish shop in Norway provided the venue for gathering SPs through a questionnaire and RPs by placing salmon mislabelled as GM on sale alongside conventional salmon. The price benefit was varied by + 15% and – 15% relative to the median price of salmon (118 NOK a kg), and the nutritional benefit was stated as double omega 3 values. The four different types of salmon on display in the field choice experiment or presented in the best-worst scaling were as follows: Conventional Atlantic salmon, Atlantic salmon with double omega 3, Atlantic GM-salmon, and Atlantic GM-salmon with double omega 3.
The results were analysed using a Maximum Likelihood Estimation (MLE), thus creating representative market shares from both methods for each salmon variation. These market shares showed a clear preference for conventional Atlantic salmon compared to GM salmon; however with the added benefit of double omega 3 and a price advantage, GM-salmon showed a substantial increase in market share. In addition, consumers with less neophobic traits, and therefore greater willingness to accept novel foods, were more accepting of GM-salmon. Therefore, consumers’ willingness to accept novel foods is associated with a willingness to accept GM-salmon. In conclusion, best-worst scaling showed similar results as did the field choice experiment, thus stated preferences matched revealed preferences rather well; consumer acceptance of GM-salmon is highly dependent on perceived consumer benefits; without them this product will be “dead in the water” in the Norwegian market.
Keywords: Genetically modified food, stated preferences, revealed preferences, diffusion of innovations, benefits||