Got Beef with Beef: Climate Labels for Sustainable Food Consumption

Last registered on July 28, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Got Beef with Beef: Climate Labels for Sustainable Food Consumption
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0009149
Initial registration date
March 25, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
March 28, 2022, 7:15 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
July 28, 2022, 9:53 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
MIT

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2022-03-25
End date
2023-06-30
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
Food systems account for approximately 26% of global greenhouse gases, with high variation in carbon footprints across different types of food. Despite the food system's large contribution to climate change, most consumers are unaware of how their food choices impact the climate. We partner with a large meal kit company in the US to test the impacts of menu labels indicating the relative carbon impact of meals in an RCT with over 100,000 customers. We will test the impacts of these labels on key administrative outcomes, like meal choices, customer retention, and customer referrals. We complement this large-scale experiment with a survey experiment in a sample recruited from Facebook, where we will test the impacts of carbon labels on knowledge, beliefs, and other pro-environmental behaviors.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Page, Lucy and Lucy Page. 2022. "Got Beef with Beef: Climate Labels for Sustainable Food Consumption." AEA RCT Registry. July 28. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9149
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Our partner company will estimate the carbon footprints of each meal on their weekly menus and then classify each meal into three tiers based on their carbon footprint. The intervention will then label each meal on the company's weekly menus with a symbol denoting which of the three carbon footprint tiers they fall in. In particular, three treatment variations will be as follows:
1) Meals are labeled as falling in three tiers of carbon impacts with abstract symbols based on color-coded globes, alongside descriptions of what each level of the symbol denotes.
2) Meals are labeled as falling in three tiers of carbon impacts with letter grades from A through C, alongside explanatory descriptions.
3) Only those meals in the lowest-impact tier are labeled as "Climate Superstars" on the menus.

In our survey experiment, there will be one treatment menu including carbon labels:
1) Meals are labeled as falling in three tiers of carbon impacts with abstract symbols based on color-coded globes, alongside descriptions of what each level of the symbol denotes.
Intervention Start Date
2022-03-25
Intervention End Date
2022-07-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Experiment with partner company:
- Meal choices (including related to different proteins, climate-friendly levels, and add-ons)
- Retention of customers

Survey experiment recruited from Facebook:
- Meal choices (including different proteins, climate friendly levels)
- Knowledge of the carbon footprints of different types of food
- Spillovers to other climate-related actions: 1) Donations to climate causes, 2) Willingness to seek out new climate-related information about food
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Participants' meal choices in our Facebook survey experiment will be incentivized in that all participants will have a chance to win a free box of meals including those meals that they selected.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Experiment with partner company:
- Cost, revenue, and profit per customer
- Customers' referrals of new customers
- Donations of meal kits through meal kit website

Survey experiment recruited from Facebook:
- Beliefs about the efficacy and moral imperative of actors in combating climate change
- Perceptions of meals' healthiness, climate-friendliness, and tastiness
- Perceptions related to own contributions to combating climate change
- Self-perceptions as an environmentalist, altruistic, etc.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We will work with a meal kit company to implement a large-scale online experiment with over 100,000 of their customers in the United States. In this experiment, all meals are classified into three tiers based on the carbon footprints associated with producing the meals. Customers are randomly assigned to one of four groups: (1) a treatment group that sees menus where climate impact is represented by an abstract symbol, (2) a treatment group that sees menus where climate impact is represented by letter grades, (3) a treatment group that sees menus where the most carbon-efficient meals are labelled as "climate superstars", and (4) a control group that will see the regular menus without any climate labels. The experimental menus will be applied to 10 weeks of meals.

In addition to this large-scale field experiment with our partner company, we implement a survey experiment with participants recruited via Facebook ads. In this survey experiment, we randomly assign participants to two groups: a treatment group that sees menus where climate impact is represented by an abstract symbol, and a control group that sees menus without any climate impact labels. The meals are taken from one week of the meal kit company's menu, and participants will have a chance to win a free box with the meals they chose in the survey experiment. Due to spending limits on Facebook recruitment and the timing of our partner company's meal cycles, we will run this off-platform experiment in two waves, each for a separate week of our partner company's meals.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Survey experiment: Randomization done via Qualtrics
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
N/A
Sample size: planned number of observations
Mealkit experiment: 133,000 customers Survey experiment via Facebook: 6,000 participants, to be split over an initial wave with N = 2470 and a second wave with approximately N = 3500. We run this survey experiment in two waves due to the combination of spending limits on Facebook recruitment and the timing of our partner company's meal cycles.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Experiment with partner company: 34,000 control, 33,000 abstract labels, 33,000 letter-grade labels, 33,000 climate-superstar labels

Survey experiment: 3,000 control, 3,000 abstract labels
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
MIT Committee on the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects (COUHES)
IRB Approval Date
2021-07-23
IRB Approval Number
2106000406
Analysis Plan

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