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Consumers’ food control risk perception and preference for food safety certification in emerging food markets
Journal of Agricultural Economics  (IF3.581),  Pub Date : 2021-12-28, DOI: 10.1111/1477-9552.12474
Oluwagbenga Akinwehinmi, Kolawole Ogundari, Taye Timothy Amos

Food safety as a credence food attribute potentially leaves room for adverse selection arising from information asymmetry between consumers and suppliers. To mitigate this market inefficiency, certification works effectively when a credible control system is in place. However, in a situation where control is weak and uncoordinated, introducing certification may encounter consumer-related behavioural barriers. The case of weak food control in an emerging market in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) gives us a unique opportunity to stochastically link consumers’ perception of the food control system to preference for different food safety certification options. We test the hypothesis that this perception induces consumers to depend on subjective cue food safety attributes. Using choice experiment data, we estimate a hybrid choice model that includes consumers’ perceptions of food control, accounting for measurement errors and endogeneity bias. Our results show that a strong preference for food safety may not translate into a positive valuation of any of the certification schemes when we control for consumer perception of food control. Consumers are likely to rely more on subjective cue attributes if they have negative perceptions of food control. When such cue attributes are susceptible to market manipulation, consumers become more vulnerable to the risk of adverse selection in the food market. We recommend combining market mechanisms with strengthened food control systems and boosting consumers’ confidence in food control to address asymmetric information problems in emerging food markets.