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EMAC 2021 Annual Conference

The ABC’s of ecological and nutrition labels. The impact of label theme and complexity on the environmental footprint of online eating choices.

Published: May 25, 2021


Lotte Hallez, KU Leuven/ Institute for Media Studies; Yara Qutteina, Institute for Media Studies, KU Leuven; Filip Boen, KU Leuven; Tim Smits, Institute for Media Studies, KU Leuven


Current food consumption patterns threaten our global environment. Food choices are generally based on quick and automatic processes, and are therefore influenced by cues. The goal of the current research is to investigate whether specific information cues (i.e., eco labels and nutrition labels) can influence more sustainable food choices. Two online experiments were carried out in which young adults chose products and quantities for a one-person meal. In the first study (N = 142), we varied the label theme alongside the products: eco label, nutrition label or no label. In the second study (N = 250), we also varied the level of complexity: interpretative (i.e., simple) vs. reductive (i.e., detailed). The two studies revealed mixed results. The aggregated results revealed that (both simple and detailed) eco labels can lead to more sustainable choices. In conclusion, our findings suggest that eco labels may be a good strategy to promote a more sustainable diet.