Twenty Years of Country-of-Origin Food Labeling Research: A Review of the Literature and Implications for Food Marketing Systems


Recent legislation by the United States and European Union governments now mandates the provision of country-of-origin (COO) information at the point of purchase for a variety of meats, fruits, vegetables, and other assorted food products. To better understand the significance of these regulatory changes, two decades of existing COO food labeling research are synthesized, reviewed, and discussed. The implications for two primary sets of actors within aggregate marketing systems, consumers and practitioners, are then discussed from a macromarketing perspective. Based on the reviewed literature, the authors conclude that little generalizable knowledge about COO food labeling effects exists, and further identify a lack of sufficient theoretical application and development as a primary reason. Consequently, the exact impact of mandatory (and voluntary) COO labeling initiatives for consumers and practitioners still remains unclear and highly debatable. Thus, as these initiatives continue to make country-of-origin labeling more commonplace around the world, it is crucial that additional theory-driven research be conducted, especially from a macromarketing perspective, to foster more generalizable knowledge about the complex role of COO information in aggregate food marketing systems.



Document Type





COO, country of origin, food labeling, food marketing, food safety, macromarketing, public policy and marketing, retailing

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Macromarketing