Sustainable Practices and Product Quality: Is There Value in Eco-Label Certification? The Case of Wine
46 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2021
Date Written: December 16, 2020
In theory, eco-labels have great potential to reduce the environmental and social impact of products via consumer choice. In practice, the diffusion of eco-labels remains limited, with consumers expressing concerns about their value. One problem is a perceived tradeoff between the eco-label sustainable attributes and the quality of the product. In this paper, we examine whether this tradeoff is also perceived by product experts. Using the case of wine, we test the impact eco-labels have on experts’ ratings of product quality. We use information about the quality of French wines from three major experts’ guides, with information on third-party organic and biodynamic certified eco-labels, as well as self-declared eco-labels without third-party certification. Our findings, based on 128,182 wines, suggest that the third-party certified organic and biodynamic labels lead to improved ratings (+6.2 and +5.6 percentage points respectively) as compared to conventional wines. These findings indicate that experts have a different appreciation of the quality of eco-certified wines than some consumers. However, self-declared eco-labels that include non-certified sustainable practices, received similar ratings to conventional wines in the best-case scenario. This indicates that non-certified sustainable practices can be associated with greenwashing and endanger the perceived value of eco-labels more generally.
Keywords: Eco-Label, Eco-Certification, Product Quality, Wine; Sustainability, Product Ratings, Green Bundle
JEL Classification: L15, L66, Q5
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation