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Keywords:

  • beef;
  • bovine spongiform encephalopathy;
  • Japan

The discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as ‘mad cow disease’, in Japan caused anxiety about consuming beef and beef products. As a result, there was a sudden fall in sales of beef that hurt the Japanese beef industry as well as major beef exporters to Japan. We analyse factors that affect Japanese consumers' willingness to pay (WTP) price premiums for BSE-tested beef and estimate the mean WTP for BSE-tested beef using data obtained from a consumer survey in Japan. A single-bounded dichotomous choice contingent valuation model is used to recover the premium amount. We find that attitudes to food safety, reduction in beef consumption following the BSE outbreak, and being female all have a statistically significant positive effect on the WTP for BSE-tested beef. Interestingly, demographic variables such as age and income do not affect the WTP, possibly indicating that the BSE scare similarly affected multiple segments of the population. In our sample, consumers are willing to pay a premium on average of greater than 50 per cent for BSE-tested beef.