Demand for meat products covered by the mandatory country-of-origin labeling (MCOOL) law that took effect in 2009 has not been impacted by the presence of the labels, according to a new analysis by the Kansas State University (KSU) Department of Agricultural Economics reported by the American Meat Institute (AMI).

The analysis, conducted by KSU economists Glynn Tonsor, Jayson Lusk, Ted Schroeder and Mykel Taylor, and funded, in part, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), involved in-person surveys and experiences in grocery stores in Texas, online surveys and an analysis of retail scanner data.

“The overriding finding of limited awareness of MCOOL, narrow use of origin information in purchasing decisions and no evidence of a meat demand impact following MCOOL implementation is consistent with the argument that voluntary labeling by country of origin would have occurred if it were economically beneficial to do so,” the study’s authors wrote.

Specifically, the research found that only 23% of respondents were aware of MCOOL, while 12% incorrectly believe it was not law, and the majority of participants said they never look for origin information when buying fresh beef and pork products.

In addition, they documented through the on-line component that consumers value labeling like “Product of North America” approximately the same as “Product of the United States.”

Finally, they concluded that across species, there was no change in demand for products following MCOOL implementation.

“These findings affirm our prediction that MCOOL would prove costly with no benefit,” said AMI President J. Patrick Boyle. “We always argued that the lack of demand for country-of-origin labeled product through the voluntary program that existed before MCOOL took effect was strong evidence of lack of demand for such labels.”

To read the study, click here.