Consumer Valuation of and Attitudes towards Novel Foods Produced with NPETs: A Review

John C. Beghin, Christopher R. Gustafson
October 2021  [21-WP 621] (Revised)

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Beghin, J.C. and C.R. Gustafson. 2021. "Consumer Valuation of and Attitudes towards Novel Foods Produced with NPETs: A Review." Working paper 21-WP 621. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.


We review the emerging international body of evidence on attitudes and willingness to pay (WTP) for novel foods produced with New Plant Engineering Techniques (NPETs). NPETs include genome/gene editing, cisgenesis, intragenesis, RNA interference and others. These novel foods are often beneficial for the environment and human health and more sustainable under increasingly prevalent climate extremes. These techniques can also improve animal welfare and disease resistance when applied to animals. Despite these promising attributes, evidence suggests that many, but not all consumers, discount these novel foods relative to conventional ones. Our systematic review sorts out findings to identify conditioning factors which can increase the acceptance of and WTP for these novel foods in a significant segment of consumers. International patterns of acceptance are identified. We also analyze how information and knowledge interact with consumer acceptance of these novel foods and technologies. Heterogeneity of consumers across cultures and borders, and in attitudes towards science and innovation emerges as key determinants of acceptance and WTP. Acceptance and WTP tend to increase when beneficial attributes—as opposed to producer-oriented cost-saving attributes—are generated by NPETs. NPETs improved foods are systematically less discounted than transgenic foods. Most of the valuation elicitations are based on hypothetical experiments and surveys and await validation through revealed preferences in actual purchases in food retailing environments.