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Nutrition, health and the demand for food

Contract nr: FAIR-CT97-3373
Project nr: 3373
Project type: SC
Starting date: 01/02/1998
Duration: 36 months
Total cost: 477,500 EUR
EC Contribution: 345,000 EUR
Scientific Officer: Armin MÜNZINGER
Research topic: Consumer's expectations
Acronym: Nutrition, health & food demand

Health issues are of major concern, not just in under developed countries but also in many countries in Europe. Poor diet is a prime cause of heart disease, cancer and other diseases. As consumers become more aware of health risks associated with certain foods the results will alter the demand for agricultural goods. Agricultural policy in turn can influence the health issues through the impact of agricultural farm gate prices on retail prices. An important influence will be the extent of dissemination of consumer health information.

The objectives can be summarised as:
a) to quantify the impact of health initiatives on diets, thereby allowing health authorities to be able to evaluate how much expenditure can justifiably be spent on such schemes;
b) to determine the long term impacts on the demand for specific foodstuffs to be determined and the knock on effects to agriculture;
c) to indirectly evaluate agricultural policy as an instrument of promoting better health among the populations of Europe;
d) to determine how farmers react to health schemes through evaluating how the attributes of different foodstuffs change as a result of such initiatives;
e) to develop econometric methodology for the development of policy issues relating to health.

The approach used will be based on economic theories and will not be a mixed discipline approach. The method of analysis will be the development and estimation of an almost ideal demand system extended for prior health information using data stretching back over twenty years or more. No surveys will be necessary. For creating the health index extensive use will be made of data bases that are capable of being searched by computer but supplemented in some cases by manual reading of abstracts. The development of indexes of consumer health information is one that is developing in the U.S. Its integration into an almost ideal demand model is a new development for Europe although work has been carried out into AIDS models.

Current situation/results:
Common models have been estimated for the countries concerned: namely Scotland, Norway, Spain, Germany and France. In order to obtain common food demand models various aggregations and restrictions have had to be imposed on the models. Perhaps because of this the effects of health dissemination have been much less than expected. To double check the results country specific models that are less restricted are now being estimated.
Permission is being requested from the organisers of the XXIV Meeting of the International Association of Agricultural Economists in Berlin, August 2000, for the partners to this project to present selected aspects of the results. This it is hoped will be done by holding a mini-symposium on "Effects of Health Information on the Demand for Food - EU and US experiences" This will open the research findings to an international audience and allow comparisons between our work and parallel work being carried out in the US.


The Scottish Agricultural College
UK-KA6 5HW Ayr
Tel: +44 1292 52 50 43
Fax: +44 1292 52 50 52


  • Jerome Adda
    Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
    Boulevard De Brandebourg 65
    F-94205 Ivry Sur Seine
    He will be located for the remainder of the project at:
    Department of Economics
    University College London
    Gower Street
    UK-WC1E 6BT London
    Tel: +44 171 504 52 14
    Fax: +44 171 916 27 75

    Agricultural University of Norway
    N-1432 Aas
    Tel: +47 64 94 86 00
    Fax: +47 64 94 30 12

  • Azucena GRACIA
    Servicio de Investigación Agroalimentaria
    Diputación General de Aragon
    E-50080 Zaragoza
    Tel: +34 976 57 63 61
    Fax: +34 976 57 55 01

  • Stephan von Cramon-Taubadel
    Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu Kiel
    Olshausenstrasse 40
    D-24118 Kiel
    He will be located for the remainder of the project at:
    Dept. of Agricultural Economics
    University of Göttingen
    Platz der Göttinger Sieben 5
    D-37073 Göttingen
    Tel: +49 551 39 28 72
    Fax: +49 551 39 98 66

  • Bill GRAY
    The Scottish Consumer Council
    Royal Exchange House
    Queen Street 100
    UK- G1 3DN Glasgow

  • Brian SIMPSON
    Rural Centre - West Mains
    UK-EH28 8NZ Newbridge
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