UBC Undergraduate Research

The Impact of Food Labels on Consumers’ Sustainable Food Choices Li, Mengshan; Ma, Yumi Lingjie; Masuda, Haruka; Wang, Jack; Xu, Hanxiang; Yeung, Kelly


In recent years, food sustainability has become a larger issue in the discussion surrounding climate change. In our research, we examine the effectiveness of different food labels on consumers’ sustainable food choices: we compare text-based labels measuring carbon output, and labels measuring climate-friendliness using the recognizable 5-star rating scale. We expect to find that labels using the 5-star scale are easier for consumers to understand as opposed to carbon emission labels. We therefore also expect to see that consumers more frequently choose more sustainable food options when observing the 5-star scale labels than when they observe the text-based labels. Conducting an one-way ANOVA and a post-hoc Tukey test, we find a significant difference between our two experimental conditions and control condition (p<0.01); the difference between the experiment conditions is not significant (p = 0.08). These results indicate that both experimental conditions had more participants choosing more sustainable food options than the control condition, but that text-based labels are as effective as the 5-star scale labels at getting participants to choose more sustainable food options. This finding indicates that it is important to measure specific concepts when designing food labels, to enable these labels to communicate their meanings effectively. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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