Requiring food manufacturers to label products that contain genetically modified (GM) ingredients will not increase food prices at the supermarket, according to an independent study released this week by Just Label It.
The study, conducted by food marketing expert Kai Robertson, found no evidence connecting changes in food labels to supermarket prices. Robertson is an independent consultant who previously worked for the Food Marketing Institute and most recently ran BSR’s food, beverage and agriculture advisory practice.
Robertson identified the key factors that influence retail prices, including consumer demographics and rival pricing behavior, along with market, chain and store characteristics. Wholesale prices have less of an effect on retail prices than these demand-related forces, and there is no evidence that label changes affect wholesale prices.
“Food processors regularly make changes to the labels of their products – as part of ongoing product innovation to anticipate and meet changing consumer demands and for other marketing and regulatory reasons,” Robertson wrote. “There are no studies that document the impact of changes to a product’s label on prices charged by supermarkets.”
In sum, this study supports Just Label It’s conclusion that proposals to change labels of GM food will not affect retail prices paid by shoppers.
“Food manufacturers are constantly refreshing their labels to highlight new innovations, so simply adding the words “may contain genetically engineered ingredients” to the back of the package will not add to the cost of making food,” said Scott Faber, Executive Director for Just Label It and formerly Vice President of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
Just Label It commissioned the independent study as more than 25 states consider legislation to label GM foods. Two states, Connecticut and Maine, have already approved GM labeling laws, and Washington voters will consider a GMO labeling ballot initiative in November. Polls show that more than 90% of American consumers want to know whether their food contains GM ingredients, and 64 nations have already required GMO labeling.