Do front-of-pack ‘green labels’ increase sustainable food choice and willingness-to-pay in U.K. consumers?

Jay J. Duckworth*, Mark Randle, Lauren S. McGale, Andrew Jones, Bob Doherty, Jason C.G. Halford, Paul Christiansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
71 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Aim: In a series of pre-registered online studies, we aimed to elucidate the magnitude of the effect of general sustainability labels on U.K. consumers’ food choices. Methods: Four labels were displayed: ‘Sustainably sourced’, ‘Locally sourced’, ‘Environmentally friendly’, and ‘Low greenhouse gas emissions’. To ensure reliable results, contingency valuation elicitation was used alongside a novel analytical approach to provide a triangulation of evidence: Multilevel-modelling compared each label vs. no-label; Poisson-modelling compared label vs. label. Socioeconomic status, environmental awareness, health motivations, and nationalism/patriotism were included in our predictive models. Results: Exp.1 Multilevel-modelling (N = 140) showed labelled products were chosen 344% more than non-labelled and consumers were willing-to-pay ∼£0.11 more, although no difference between label types was found. Poisson-modelling (N = 735) showed consumers chose Sustainably sourced and Locally sourced labels ∼20% more often but were willing-to-pay ∼£0.03 more only for Locally sourced products. Exp.2 was a direct replication. Multilevel-modelling (N = 149) showed virtually identical results (labels chosen 344% more, willingness-to-pay ∼£0.10 more), as did Poisson-modelling (N = 931) with Sustainably sourced and Locally sourced chosen ∼20% more and willingness-to-pay ∼£0.04 more for Locally sourced products. Environmental concern (specifically the ‘propensity to act’) was the only consistent predictor of preference for labelled vs. non-labelled products. Conclusions: Findings suggest front-of-pack ‘green labels’ may yield substantive increases in consumer choice alongside relatively modest increases in willingness-to-pay for environmentally-sustainable foods. Specifically, references to ‘sustainable’ or ‘local’ sourcing may have the largest impact.

Original languageEnglish
Article number133466
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume371
Early online date18 Aug 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Consumer choice
  • Food labelling
  • Front-of-pack labels
  • Sustainability
  • Willingness-to-pay

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