Effects of Front-of-Pack Labels on the Nutritional Quality of Supermarket Food Purchases: Evidence From a Large-Scale Randomized Controlled Trial

Dubois, P., Albuquerque, P., Allais, O., Bonnet, C., Bertail, P., Combris, P., Lahlou, S., Rigal, N., Ruffieux, B. & Chandon, P. Effects of Front-of-pack Labels on the Nutritional Quality of Supermarket Food Purchases: Evidence from a Large-Scale Randomized Controlled Trial

20 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2020 Last revised: 24 Apr 2020

See all articles by Pierre Dubois

Pierre Dubois

University of Toulouse 1 - Toulouse School of Economics (TSE)

Paulo Albuquerque

INSEAD

Olivier Allais

INRA - UR1303 ALISS

Céline Bonnet

University of Toulouse 1

Patrice Bertail

University Paris Nanterre

Pierre Combris

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Saadi Lahlou

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Natalie Rigal

University Paris Nanterre

Bernard Ruffieux

Ecole Nationale Superieure de Genie Industriel, Grenoble

Pierre Chandon

INSEAD

Date Written: March 31, 2020

Abstract

To examine whether four pre-selected front-of-pack nutrition labels improve food purchases in real-life grocery shopping settings, we put 1.9 million labels on 1,266 food products in four categories in 60 supermarkets and analyzed the nutritional quality of 1,668,301 purchases using the FSA nutrient profiling score. Effect sizes were 17 times smaller on average than those found in comparable laboratory studies. The most effective nutrition label, Nutri-Score, increased the purchases of foods in the top third of their category nutrition-wise by 14%, but had no impact on the purchases of foods with medium, low, or unlabeled nutrition quality. Therefore, Nutri-Score only improved the nutritional quality of the basket of labeled foods purchased by 2.5% (-0.142 FSA points). Nutri-Score’s performance improved with the variance (but not the mean) of the nutritional quality of the category. In-store surveys suggest that Nutri-Score’s ability to attract attention and help shoppers rank products by nutritional quality may explain its performance.

Keywords: Nutrition, Labeling, Supermarket, RCT, Food, Field Experiment, Policy

Suggested Citation

Dubois, Pierre and Albuquerque, Paulo and Allais, Olivier and Bonnet, Céline and Bertail, Patrice and Combris, Pierre and Lahlou, Saadi and Rigal, Natalie and Ruffieux, Bernard and Chandon, Pierre, Effects of Front-of-Pack Labels on the Nutritional Quality of Supermarket Food Purchases: Evidence From a Large-Scale Randomized Controlled Trial (March 31, 2020). Dubois, P., Albuquerque, P., Allais, O., Bonnet, C., Bertail, P., Combris, P., Lahlou, S., Rigal, N., Ruffieux, B. & Chandon, P. Effects of Front-of-pack Labels on the Nutritional Quality of Supermarket Food Purchases: Evidence from a Large-Scale Randomized Controlled Trial, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3567974 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3567974

Pierre Dubois

University of Toulouse 1 - Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) ( email )

Place Anatole-France
Toulouse Cedex, F-31042
France

Paulo Albuquerque

INSEAD ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
77305 Fontainebleau Cedex
France

Olivier Allais

INRA - UR1303 ALISS ( email )

65 Boulevard Brandenburg
Ivry-sur-Seine Cedex, 94205
France

Céline Bonnet

University of Toulouse 1 ( email )

Place Anatole France
Toulouse Cedex, F-31042
France

HOME PAGE: http://ijhpm.com

Patrice Bertail

University Paris Nanterre ( email )

200 avenue de la république
Nanterre
France

Pierre Combris

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Saadi Lahlou

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Natalie Rigal

University Paris Nanterre ( email )

200 avenue de la république
Nanterre
France

Bernard Ruffieux

Ecole Nationale Superieure de Genie Industriel, Grenoble ( email )

2, rue Pierre Semard
38003 Grenoble
France

Pierre Chandon (Contact Author)

INSEAD ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
77305 Fontainebleau Cedex
France

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