Date of Completion


Embargo Period



food policy, retailer market power, consumer behavior, social welfare, greenhouse gas emissions, differentiated products, private labels, natural disasters, emergency supplies

Major Advisor

Prof. Farhed Shah

Associate Advisor

Prof. Rigoberto A. Lopez

Associate Advisor

Prof. Elena Castellari

Field of Study

Agricultural and Resource Economics


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


The impact of food policy and retailer strategic behavior on consumer welfare has been widely explored by researchers desiring to help policy makers to address the issues of unhealthy diets and excessive market power within the supply chain. This work contributes to the existing body of literature on food policy and social welfare by analyzing the impacts of three different policies that affect food purchases. In the first chapter, we evaluate the effects of different carbon taxes on food acquisitions to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from the food system in the U.S. Our results show that these policies may significantly reduce the carbon footprint of food purchases (from -3% to -5%), mainly thanks to the fall in meat and animal-based products consumption. However, these policies are regressive, as poorer households are more burdened by the tax than relatively more affluent consumers. Moreover, the impact on the nutritional composition of food purchases is uncertain. So, trade-offs exist among environmental, nutritional and distributional goals. The second essay analyzes the welfare implications of private label (PLs) introduction in a differentiated market. We find that equilibrium prices would be higher if PLs were not in the market. Moreover, producer surplus would be lower, as PLs profits would only be partially distributed across the remaining brands. Finally, consumers would be worse off because of higher market prices and lower product variety. Therefore, we can argue that PLs are social welfare-enhancing. In the last chapter, we develop a framework to estimate the effects of anti-price gouging (APG) laws on prices and product availability during a natural disaster and provide an empirical illustration. A difference-in-difference approach can provide unbiased estimate of the causal impacts of interest if comparable treatment and control groups are chosen. To ensure that this condition holds, the “parallel trend” assumption for the outcome variables of interest should be tested. The results from our empirical application show that APG laws might be effective in keeping prices stable during a state of emergency without worsening supply shortages.