July 18, 2018

New Study Claims GMO Labeling Will Not Affect Food Prices

A new study released by the national Just Label It campaign has found that requiring food manufacturers to label products that contain genetically engineered (GE) and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will not increase food prices. The study was conducted by food marketing expert Kai Robertson. He found no evidence connecting changes in food labels to supermarket prices.

GMO LabelingThe labeling controversy has played out in the political arena. Last year, a labeling campaign in California, Prop 37, was defeated in the November elections after a massive spending campaign by the group No on 37, which was sponsored by food giants Monsanto, General Mills, and Dupont. More than 30 states are putting the issue on ballots this year and next year, and Maine and Connecticut have passed GMO labeling measures into law. The USDA approved a non-GMO label in June 2013.

The study identified key factors that change retail prices, which include market, chain, and store characteristics, demand-related forces, consumer demographics, and rival pricing behavior. Robertson said, “food processors regularly make changes to the labels of their products – as part of ongoing product innovation to anticipate and meet changing consumer demands and for other marketing and regulatory reasons. There are no studies that document that impact of changes to a product’s label on prices charged by supermarkets.”

There is no simple formula that influences food prices, although demand-oriented factors have the biggest impact. Competition and wholesale costs are also important factors. “Price stickiness” is another factor, since companies are unwilling to lose long-term customers by raising prices. Furthermore, most changes that are made to labels are known in advance, and are incorporated into a company’s manufacturing cycles.

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