The introduction of rBST-free and organic labels has stigmatized conventional milk and may reduce overall consumer demand for milk, according to a new economic study, reports the Capital Press.

One of the study’s authors says, that people do care about labels, and it does affect their behavior. The study is set to be published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics in November.

About 150 study participants were asked to bid on cartons of conventional, rBST-free and organic milk in an attempt to analyze consumer behavior. Participants were presented with similar information about these milk types as they would typically see in a grocery store. For example, organic milk was described as being “produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones or pesticides” and rBST-free milk was labeled “does not contain artificial growth hormones”.

Information about conventional milk did not mention production techniques, but participants were told that it is the most common type sold in stores. On average, participants bid 33 percent less per quart for conventional milk after being exposed to information about rBST-free milk and 45 percent less per quart after seeing information about organic milk. “This finding supports the idea that conventional milk becomes a stigmatized good after rBST-free and organic milk are introduced into the marketplace,” the study said.

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Source: Capital Press