Product-country images and preference heterogeneity for Mediterranean food products: A discrete choice framework



Despite the importance of region of origin (ROO) as a quality indicator and EU recognition of territorial specificity in food products, there is still a dearth of work investigating the importance of regional (both national and territorial) identity in consumer perceptions for specific food product categories. Employing nationwide discrete choice data for Italy, we investigate the strength of the ROO attribute across three food product categories. Moreover, in addition to treating taste heterogeneity as conditional on socioeconomic factors, we employ recent advances in discrete-choice modeling to test for unobserved heterogeneity in consumer preferences for domestic and territorial origin of production certification. The results show evidence of home bias in preference across all three food products, while preference heterogeneity is exhibited for table grapes and oil, but not for oranges. The analysis shows that unobserved heterogeneity, as represented by mixed logit models, appears to explain more of the observed choice variation than heterogeneity associated to socioeconomic characteristics. [JEL classification: Q120,Q130, Q180]. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Agribusiness 21: 329–349, 2005.