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Testing for the Best Instrument to Generate Sustainable Food Consumption


  • Panzone, Luca
  • Perino, Grischa
  • Swanson, Timothy
  • Leung, Denise


The increase in the level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere in the last centuries, and the subsequent increase in temperature, has been a widely studied area in the last few decades. Climate change has become a key item on the political agenda due to concerns regarding the sustainability of current human consumption for future generations. Consumption of food and agricultural goods constitutes an important part of household based GHG emissions, and the relatively low costs associated with environmental improvements make it an interesting area of study to understand behavioural changes. Despite general agreement on the need to curb the amount of GHG emissions worldwide, little evidence exists regarding the best instruments policymakers can employ to stimulate changes toward more sustainable consumption. The present work explores which instruments are most effective in fostering change to more environmentally friendly food consumption. The instruments tested are CO2 labelling, GHG abatement subsidy and product-specific bans. We used a simulated online shopping trip in supermarkets in the Greater London area in the United Kingdom, where respondents shopped in four product categories: cola, milk, meat (chicken and beef), and butter/margarine. Consumer preferences reveal that, in the presence of these instruments, quantity instruments performed better than price incentives and labelling.

Suggested Citation

  • Panzone, Luca & Perino, Grischa & Swanson, Timothy & Leung, Denise, 2011. "Testing for the Best Instrument to Generate Sustainable Food Consumption," International Journal on Food System Dynamics, International Center for Management, Communication, and Research, vol. 2(3).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:ijofsd:121945

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Pearce, 2003. "The Social Cost of Carbon and its Policy Implications," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(3), pages 362-384.
    2. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J. & Johnston, Rachel M., 2005. "An experimental test of the crowding out hypothesis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(8), pages 1543-1560, August.
    3. Anthoff, David & Hepburn, Cameron & Tol, Richard S.J., 2009. "Equity weighting and the marginal damage costs of climate change," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 836-849, January.
    4. Cooter, Robert D, 2006. "The Intrinsic Value of Obeying a Law: Economic Analysis of the Internal Viewpoint," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt2kc0f6mq, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    5. Grischa Perino & Luca A. Panzone & Timothy Swanson, 2011. "Crowding-in, crowding-out and over-crowding: The interaction between price and quantity based instruments and intrinsic motivation," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 11-10, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    6. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Michael Grossman, 2006. "The Market for Illegal Goods: The Case of Drugs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 38-60, February.
    7. McGregor, JoAnn, 1994. "Climate change and involuntary migration: implications for food security," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 120-132, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lanz, Bruno & Wurlod, Jules-Daniel & Panzone, Luca & Swanson, Timothy, 2018. "The behavioral effect of Pigovian regulation: Evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 190-205.
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:1:p:134-:d:125926 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Li, Xiaogu & Jensen, Kimberly L. & Clark, Christopher D. & Lambert, Dayton M., 2016. "Consumer willingness to pay for beef grown using climate friendly production practices," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 93-106.


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