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Calorie Posting in Chain Restaurants

Author

Listed:
  • Bryan Bollinger
  • Phillip Leslie
  • Alan Sorensen

Abstract

We study the impact of mandatory calorie posting on consumers' purchase decisions using detailed data from Starbucks. We find that average calories per transaction fall by 6 percent. The effect is almost entirely related to changes in consumers' food choices—there is almost no change in purchases of beverage calories. There is no impact on Starbucks profit on average, and for the subset of stores located close to their competitor Dunkin Donuts, the effect of calorie posting is actually to increase Starbucks revenue. Survey evidence and analysis of commuters suggests the mechanism for the effect is a combination of learning and salience. (JEL D12, D18, D83, L83)

Suggested Citation

  • Bryan Bollinger & Phillip Leslie & Alan Sorensen, 2011. "Calorie Posting in Chain Restaurants," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 91-128, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:3:y:2011:i:1:p:91-128 Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.3.1.91
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Hongbin Cai & Yuyu Chen & Hanming Fang, 2009. "Observational Learning: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 864-882, June.
    2. David Dranove & Daniel Kessler & Mark McClellan & Mark Satterthwaite, 2003. "Is More Information Better? The Effects of "Report Cards" on Health Care Providers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(3), pages 555-588, June.
    3. Sara Bleich & David Cutler & Christopher Murray & Alyce Adams, 2007. "Why Is The Developed World Obese?," NBER Working Papers 12954, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Michael L. Anderson & David A. Matsa, 2011. "Are Restaurants Really Supersizing America?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 152-188, January.
    5. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1145-1177.
    6. Shin-Yi Chou & Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman, 2008. "Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(4), pages 599-618, November.
    7. Currie, Janet & DellaVigna, Stefano & Moretti, Enrico & Pathania, Vikram, 2009. "The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity," Working Papers 47830, American Association of Wine Economists.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism

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