Want Non-GMO? How Much More Will it Cost?

By Jayson Lusk –

The journal Food Policy just released a new paper I co-authored with Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes and Alexandre Magnier entitled, “The price of non-genetically modified (non-GM) food.”

As retailers consider reformulating products or how they’ll respond to new mandatory labeling laws, it is important to consider how these decisions may affect the prices consumers pay for foods that avoid GMOs.  The matter is increasingly of note because sales of non-GMO products have significantly risen over time (below is a graph from the paper showing the trend in sales of breakfast cereal making non-GMO claims).


In the paper, we used a U.S. national sample of grocery store scanner data from the years 2009- 2016 to investigate the prices stores charged for 144 different salad and cooking oil products (or Universal Product Codes, UPCs), 1,288 tortilla chip UPCs, 2,227 breakfast cereal UPCs, and 5,626 ice cream UPCs. We picked these product categories because they represent classes of products for which the potential impact of changes in the raw ingredients on the final retail price might be large (i.e., soybean or corn oil for which the supply is primarily GMO) to small (i.e., ice cream where the value share of GMO crops and their derivatives (e.g. corn syrup) is probably less than 5%).

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