Household Food Carbon Footprint and Club Store Shopping
48 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2023
Date Written: February 26, 2023
As food system contributes approximately 34% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, individuals’ decisions on what to eat and where to purchase food have a consequential effect on the environment. With their fast growth and unique shopping environment (e.g., lower prices, larger package sizes, membership fees), club stores play a significant role in households’ food purchases. This study examines whether and why shopping at warehouse club stores affects a household’s food carbon footprint. Using the process-based Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) model and Nielsen Consumer Panel data, we calculate the household-level food carbon footprint between 2007 and 2017. With both Diff-in-Diff and generalized synthetic control approaches, we find a consistent average treatment effect in which households generate 7-9% more per capita carbon emissions since purchasing groceries at club stores. Moreover, we observe the heterogeneous treatment effect that showed a larger increase for low-income and small households. We further investigate how package size and price at the club store relative to other local grocery stores, affect household food carbon footprint increases and find that larger package sizes in club stores play a more important role in the food carbon footprint increase.
Keywords: food carbon footprint, club stores, retail formats, causal inference, generalized synthetic control
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