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

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.
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.
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.
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
Number of pages48
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date18 Aug 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors.


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

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