Consumer Economics and Policy: AFLYST

Course content

The aim of the course is to teach the fundamentals of microeconomic theory, and thereby give an understanding of consumer and producer behaviour in relation to economic decision making. Introduction of demand and supply analysis enables us to use economic theory to e.g. explain the consequences for the price of organic apples if major levels of pesticide residues suddenly are found in conventional apples. During the course the economic approach to solving current challenges with e.g. obesity and poor nutrition as well as aims and arguments for regulation in relation to public food policy will also be discussed.

The course consists of three main parts:

1. The economic part.
This part of the course focuses on consumer and producer behaviour. The underlying assumptions about the consumers’ decision making are discussed, including the concepts of utility maximization, budget constraints, demand functions, prices and income. The firms’ production decisions are also addressed and new concepts such as profit maximization and the equimarginal principle are introduced. In order to obtain a comprehensive picture of how different markets work, we use real world examples to discuss markets characterized by perfect competition, monopoly and oligopoly. Demand and supply of goods and services with the conditions for market equilibrium are introduced.

2. The policy part.

The welfare economic rationale for policy regulation is discussed and some of the mostly used policy instruments are examined. These instruments include:
- Change in prices through taxes (e.g. a tax on sugar and fat, which is introduced to induce people to eat less unhealthy products) or subsidies.
- Information is a strong policy instrument which may affect the behavior of the consumers (e.g. labelling or information about the health benefit of eating fruits and vegetables)

- Other instruments such as direct regulation, public support and public control will also be discussed

3. Case studies.

Throughout the course relevant cases concerning topics like food policy, food safety, obesity, local food, organic food  will be examined. Consumer or producer behaviour in different cases will be addressed using an economic approach and the optimal choice of policy instrument will be discussed.


MSc Programme in Food Science and Technology

Learning outcome


The aim of the course is to give an introduction to the concepts of microeconomic theory, and thereby give a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour in relation to economic decision making and of economic policy instruments that can be used to affect the market.

After completing the course the students should be able to:

Describe the demand and supply of goods.
Describe the effects of different policy instruments aimed at affecting the demand and supply of goods.
Reflect about the welfare and distributional effects from different policy instruments.
Define central concepts within the area of microeconomics and consumer behaviour.

Apply microeconomic theory to analyse elementary economic problems.
Communicate and discuss concrete economic problems and solutions with different target groups.

Cooperate with fellow students in analysing and solving different economic problems in a broader perspective and also in relation to public food policy.
Independently work with economic problems related to the food market.


Central parts of the curriculum will be presented through traditional lectures. This knowledge will be elaborated on in theoretical exercises. The students will in groups work with different case studies. An individual project report on a specific theme has to be submitted as a requirement for the 4-hour written exam.

Text book supplemented with relevant articles

Steven E, Landsburg (2008), Price Theory and Applications, 7e, Thomson South-Western.

The course cannot be attended by students from Jordbrugsøkonomi/​Agricultural Economics - ENRE, Naturressourcer med fagpakke i miljøøkonomi

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination, 4 hours under invigilation
written exam in lecturehall
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal examiner
Criteria for exam assessment

To obtain the grade 12 the student has to fulfill the Learning outcomes

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Theory exercises
  • 20
  • Preparation
  • 100
  • Project work
  • 40
  • Exam
  • 4
  • English
  • 206