An Online Randomised Controlled Trial of Price and Non-Price Interventions to Promote Sustainable Food Choices on Food Delivery Platforms

56 Pages Posted: 9 May 2024

See all articles by Paul M. Lohmann

Paul M. Lohmann

Cambridge Judge Business School, El-Erian Institute

Elisabeth Gsottbauer

Institute of Public Finance, Department of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck

James Farrington

The Behavioural Insights Team

Steve Human

The Behavioural Insights Team

Lucia A. Reisch

El-Erian Institute for Behavioural Economics and Policy; Copenhagen Business School - Department of Management, Society and Communication

Date Written: May 6, 2024

Abstract

Food-delivery platforms provide unique opportunities to design user interfaces that encourage healthy, low-carbon meal choices. We conducted an incentivised online randomised controlled trial with 4,008 participants using a simulated food delivery app to test three potential interventions: a sign-posted meat tax, a carbon-footprint label, and a choice-architecture intervention that changed the order of the menu so that the lowest carbon-impact restaurants and dishes were presented first. Results show that only the choice-architecture nudge significantly reduced the average meal carbon footprint—by 0.3 kg/CO2e per order (12%), driven by a 5.6 percentage point (13%) reduction in high-carbon meal choices. Furthermore, menu repositioning resulted in healthier meal choices, with greater nutritional value and fewer calories, while significantly increasing self-reported satisfaction. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that menu repositioning would be a highly cost-effective policy instrument if implemented at scale, with an expected return on investment in the range of £1.28 to £3.85 per metric ton of avoided CO2 emissions, depending on implementation costs.

Keywords: carbon-footprint labelling, choice architecture, food-delivery apps, low-carbon diets, repositioning, reordering, meat tax, carbon tax, RCT

JEL Classification: C90, D04, I18, D90, Q18, Q50

Suggested Citation

Lohmann, Paul and Gsottbauer, Elisabeth and Farrington, James and Human, Steve and Reisch, Lucia A., An Online Randomised Controlled Trial of Price and Non-Price Interventions to Promote Sustainable Food Choices on Food Delivery Platforms (May 6, 2024). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4818247 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4818247

Paul Lohmann (Contact Author)

Cambridge Judge Business School, El-Erian Institute ( email )

Trumpington Rd 25
Cambridge
Great Britain

Elisabeth Gsottbauer

Institute of Public Finance, Department of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck ( email )

Universitätsstrasse 15
Innsbruck, 6020
Austria

James Farrington

The Behavioural Insights Team ( email )

4 Matthew Parker Street
London, SW1H 9NP
United Kingdom

Steve Human

The Behavioural Insights Team ( email )

4 Matthew Parker Street
London, SW1H 9NP
United Kingdom

Lucia A. Reisch

El-Erian Institute for Behavioural Economics and Policy ( email )

Trumpington Rd 25
Cambridge
Great Britain

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Management, Society and Communication ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000
Denmark

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