Markets and welfare effects of food fraud

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Conference Proceeding

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This study develops a theoretical framework of heterogeneous consumers and producers and imperfectly competitive food companies to analyse the system-wide market and welfare effects of food fraud in the form of food adulteration and mislabelling. The results show that, while the price impacts of food fraud are product-specific with the equilibrium prices of high-quality and low-quality products moving in different directions, the equilibrium quantities depend on the relative magnitude of the demand and supply effects of food fraud. Regarding the welfare effects of food fraud, they are shown to be highly asymmetric across different consumers and producers. In addition to enabling the disaggregation of the welfare effects of food fraud, the explicit consideration of agent heterogeneity, asymmetries in the probability of fraud detection and the endogeneity of the producer quality choices also enables the derivation of a key result of this study; contrary to what is traditionally believed, both low-quality and high-quality producers can have economic incentives to commit fraud. The group that is more likely to cheat is determined by the social attitudes towards fraudulent behaviour, the enforcement policy parameters and the relative magnitude of the demand and supply effects of food fraud. A comparison of the market effects of mislabelling and food adulteration reveals that, while the equilibrium quantity of the high-quality product is higher in the presence of mislabelling, producers are more likely to mislabel than adulterate their products. © 2019 Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society Inc.



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Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics

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