Carbon labeling on products can affect consumer behavior

Published April 19, 2021, 12:00 PM

by Patricia Bianca Taculao

According to a study of hypothetical purchasing decisions conducted in Sweden, carbon footprint labels cause consumers to shift to meat products that have a 25 percent lower climate impact. 

The study was conducted to support the emerging strategy of carbon labeling in grocery stores and offered suggestions on how these labels could be designed to reach those who are not exactly concerned about the environmental impact of their food. 

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences administered an online questionnaire to 803 people in Sweden to determine how carbon labeling can affect consumer behavior. 

Participants were asked to choose six protein products to buy: ground beef, beef and pork, pork, chicken, beef and beans, or a meat substitute. They were then asked if they would like to have information about the climate impact of the products. 

Afterward, the participants were asked to choose again. This time, the list of products also included the carbon footprint information even if they didn’t ask for it. The survey also included a range of questions about the participants’ thoughts on climate change and eating meat. 

Eventually, results showed that the participants changed their purchasing decisions after they saw the carbon information. They steered clear from choosing the high-carbon beef and pork options but became more likely to choose the meat substitute with a lower carbon footprint. 

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