Effects of environmental impact labels on the sustainability of food purchases: Two randomised controlled trials in an experimental online supermarket.
Potter C., Pechey R., Clark M., Frie K., Bateman PA., Cook B., Stewart C., Piernas C., Lynch J., Rayner M., Poore J., Jebb SA.
Providing consumers with product-specific environmental impact information for food products (ecolabels) may promote more sustainable purchasing, needed to meet global environmental targets. Two UK studies investigated the effectiveness of different ecolabels using an experimental online supermarket platform. Study 1 (N = 1051 participants) compared three labels against control (no label), while Study 2 (N = 4979) tested four designs against control. Study 1 found significant reductions in the environmental impact score (EIS) for all labels compared to control (labels presented: values for four environmental indicators [-3.9 percentiles, 95%CIs: -5.2,-2.6]; a composite score [taking values from A to E; -3.9, 95%CIs: -5.2,-2.5]; or both together [-3.2, 95%CIs: -4.5,-1.9]). Study 2 showed significant reductions in EIS compared to control for A-E labels [-2.3, 95%CIs: -3.0,-1.5], coloured globes with A-E scores [-3.2, 95%CIs:-3.9,-2.4], and red globes highlighting 'worse' products [-3.2, 95%CIs:-3.9,-2.5]. There was no evidence that green globes highlighting 'better' products were effective [-0.5, 95%CIs:-1.3,0.2]. Providing ecolabels is a promising intervention to promote the selection of more sustainable products.