Prof Johann Kirsten

Van Zyl, K, Vermeulen, H and Kirsten, JF (2013). Determining South African consumers’ willingness to pay for certified Karoo lamb: An application of an experimental auction. Agrekon 52 (4):1-20.



Changes in the features of food demand and consumption have moved from the mass consumption model towards an increasing qualitative differentiation of products and demand. This movement towards addressing consumers’ demand for food products with more advanced quality attributes has led to increasingly complex food qualification processes and a proliferation of standards. Accompanying these changes in the agro-food system is a growing consumer concern for food safety and quality. One important attribute of “quality” is the origin of a food product. This paper focuses on lamb originating from the Karoo region of South Africa and tests consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for this specific origin attribute of the product. A random nth price auction was conducted to obtain willingness to pay estimates for a premium on a 500g packet of certified Karoo lamb loin chops. Various demographic and behavioural variables were linked to participants’ individual bids in order to determine the possible influence of these variables on participants’ bidding behaviour. A general positive willingness to pay for certified Karoo lamb was observed, with an average premium of R21.80/ kg recorded for loin chops. The impact of additional information was clearly visible as bids increased substantially after additional information regarding the product was introduced.

The item can be downloaded at (a fee will be charged)

or contact


Bienabe, E; Kirsten JF and Bramley, C (2013). Collective action dynamics and product reputation. Chapter 3 in: Bramley, C; Bienabe, E and Kirsten JF (eds) (2013) Developing Geographical Indications in the South: The Southern African Experience. Springer, Dordrecht.



This chapter aims to analyse how the quality and reputation dimension is built and sustained through collective action dynamics. It explores the key features of collective action that underlie origin based product development and their protection through GIs. The chapter which departs from a literature review which identified the key dimensions of GI related collective action and structure the analysis. It then builds on the analysis of two highly contrasted cases, Karoo lamb and Karakul pelts, to deepen the understanding of the diversity of ways in which collective reputation can develop at industry level and of the different situations that this creates for implementing GI schemes. The discussion empirically confirms the importance of collective action to successfully exploit the benefits of collective reputation and shows that the capacity of industries to establish successful GIs critically depends on the collective basis on which product reputation has been built, as this determines an industry’s ability to act collectively in protecting the collective reputation. It is argued that distinguishing between collective action features attached to the building of the collective reputation and those linked to maintaining and protecting this reputation, creates an interesting direction for a more robust approach to collective action analysis oriented towards supporting GI implementation.

The chapter can be purchased here:

or contact


Bramley, C, Bienabe, E and Kirsten, JF (2009), The economics of geographical indications: Towards a conceptual framework for geographical indication research in developing countries. In: WIPO (ed). The economics of intellectual property: Suggestions for further research in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation), Geneva.




Over the past two decades, agrifood systems have experienced a significant move towards market differentiation and product proliferation in many parts of the world. This product proliferation and differentiation is associated with what Allaire (2003) described as “the immaterialization of food and the institutionalization of quality”, which is translating into an increasing complexity of quality and new quality conventions. These institutions go beyond the neo-classical model of market pricing and quality signaling through price mechanisms, to instances where institutions that define and enforce quality standards and norms become key to the performance of market mechanisms. As stated by Sauvée and Valceschini (2003): “In the current competitive universe, the definition of quality and the information on qualities are from now on at the heart of the competitive strategies of economic actors”.

Click here to download


J Kirsten (2008), “The role of agriculture in poverty alleviation”, ASSAF (Academy of Science of South Africa), Local Economic Development in Small Towns, Housing Delivery and Impact on the Environment, Pretoria.




World market prices for major food commodities such as grains, vegetable oils and dairy products are at an historic high, more than 60% above the levels two years ago. One cannot ignore the dramatic impact these rising trends in food prices will have on the poorest of the poor. Under these circumstances, it is increasingly asked what role agriculture plays in alleviating poverty.

As societies have urbanised and as politicians and academics increasingly focus on urban matters, there is less of an appreciation of the role of agriculture in the economy, and society, and its importance for the future of mankind. Urban biases, and the luxury of having food available, and having access to relatively cheap food for the last 30 years, (See Figure 1 showing the real decline in commodity prices) in a way has provided the basis for an intellectual and policy arrogance on agricultural and rural matters. As a result there has been little appreciation of agriculture’s fundamental role, and its true development and poverty impact. This short report places the role of agriculture in historical perspective and then summarises the empirical evidence of agriculture’s contribution to poverty alleviation.

Click here to download