Consumer choice

Linking consumer intentions to actual purchase of GM labeled food products

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With a mandatory labeling scheme for GM food in Europe since 2004 measuring actual consumer choice in practice has become possible. Anticipating Europeans negative attitude toward GM food, the labeling was enforced to allow consumers to make an informed choice. We studied consumers actual purchase behavior of GM food products and compared this with their attitude and behavioral intention for buying GM food. We found that despite a majority of consumers voicing a negative attitude toward GM food over 50% of our European respondents stated that they did not actively avoid the purchase of GM food and 6% actually purchased one of the few available GM labeled food products in the period between September 2006 and October 2007. Our results imply that a voiced negative attitude of consumers in responses to questionnaires about their intentions is not a reliable guide for what they actually do in supermarkets. We conclude that the assumption of a negative attitude with regard to GM food is at least in part construed.