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Organic labels found to give food a ‘health halo’


By John Glenday, Reporter

April 3, 2013 | 1 min read

Consumers are paying over the odds for food labelled as organic thanks to a ‘health halo effect’, according to researchers.

Scientists at Cornell University studied the purchase habits of 115 shoppers as part of a taste test and found that they were willing to pay as much as 23% more for organic produce, perceiving it to be tastier and healthier, even though it may be neither.

Their conclusion was reached after presenting each individual with a pair of biscuits, crisps and yoghurt, each of which was labelled organic or non-organic. In fact both were organic.

Shoppers confidently proclaimed that the items with an ‘organic’ label contained lower fat, fewer calories and more fibre.

It wasn’t all good news for producers of organic foods however, the test subjects reported that the ‘non organic’ biscuits were tastier – possibly because people believe that healthy biscuits must have had sugar and saturated fat removed.


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