Harry M. Kaiser, Jura Liaukonyte, Nadia A. Streletskaya and Bradley J. Rickard of Cornell University said consumers crave more information on food labels -- especially about potentially harmful ingredients not included in the product.
"Even seemingly negative information was valued over just the label itself," Kaiser said in a statement.
The study involved 351 shoppers that found consumers were willing to pay a premium when a product label said "free of" something, but only if the package includes "negative" information on whatever the product is "free of."
For example, a food labeled "free" of a food dye would compel some consumers to buy that product. But even more people would buy the product if that same label also included information about the risks of ingesting such dyes.
In addition, the study found when consumers were provided more information about ingredients, they were more confident about their decisions and value the product more, Kaiser said.
The study was published in the journal Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy.