Consumer Information and Labeling
In the United States, consumers' food preferences and nutritional needs are diverse, creating a demand for variety in foods, and food suppliers offer numerous choices to meet this demand. This raises an economic question: How can one ensure that consumers have enough information to choose foods that satisfy their idiosyncratic needs, thereby resolving a complex coordination issue of matching diverse food demands with food supplies?
The Federal Government provides consumers access to nutrition information and education through initiatives such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPlate plan, and through regulatory mechanisms such as mandatory nutrition labeling of packaged foods.
In terms of consumers' food choices, ERS conducts economic analyses of:
- The effects of nutrition information provision and education programs on food choices and dietary outcomes,
- Consumers' use of food labels and impacts on food choices and dietary outcomes, and
- The effects of new label information on the supply of labeled foods, retail prices, and manufacturing and farm production practices.