Process Values, Perverse Information Impacts And Implications For Animal Products
Assuming that the end products are identical, information related to the processing of goods can affect a consumer’s decision to use or purchase an item. This paper concludes that institutional barriers currently provides consumers with insufficient process information.
Relevant attributes of a consumer product are generally thought to be either directly or indirectly viewable or observable upon consumption of a good, and those that are not ascertainable are typically thought to be irrelevant to the purchase decision. Trade organizations such as NAFTA, WTO and GATT have made explicit rules about the relevance of production process factors and labeling, and have held that labeling for production process is not legitimate unless it is related to product safety. Animal welfare regulations are ethical rather than utilitarian, however this paper argues that these issues are relevant process-related attributes. Furthermore, environmental and animal exploitation issues are factors importantly related to the production process.
Relevance of Process Attributes of Goods: For this analysis, a consumer good should be thought of as the bundle of attributes that are related to the good and relevant to the purchaser. Process attributes are relevant to attributes to goods simply because consumers care about those attributes and they are inseparable from the goods themselves.
- A 1991 study by the EPA revealed that Americans consider the environmental impacts of their purchases
- A 1990 USA Today poll found that 57% of people would pay 15% more for groceries in recyclable packaging and that 52% would stop making purchases from companies perceived to be polluting the environment
Properties of Process Attributes of Goods: Process attributes, particularly sensitive to information issues, are typically proprietary and without direct information, they are unobservable in the final product. By a series of utility calculations, the author reaches the conclusion that “perfect information” is the optimal information, even though utility calculations suggest that ignorance may in fact superficially raise utility. Negative implications of incomplete information are more problematic in current times and must be addressed, and full provision of relevant information should be provided to the consumer.