How important is healthiness, carbon footprint and meat content when purchasing a ready meal? Evidence from a non-hypothetical discrete choice experiment

Jennie I Macdiarmid* (Corresponding Author), Simone Cerroni, Dimitrios Kalentakis, Christian Reynolds

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
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Recent high-level reports state the population should decrease meat consumption to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as improve public health. This calls for new strategies to change dietary habits, especially as many consumers are reluctant to eat less meat. This study tests the effect of labelling a meat-based ready meal with different levels of carbon footprint and healthiness on consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for these attributes.
Participants took part in two sequential non-hypothetical discrete choice experiments (DCE). In the first experiment, they completed a DCE where the ready meals (i.e. beef lasagne) were labelled using a dual traffic light labelling system; one labelled for carbon footprint and one for healthiness. In the second experiment, participants repeated the DCE after they were told the carbon footprint and healthiness varied because of the meat and saturated fat content, respectively. The study found that participants were willing to pay a premium for the healthier lasagne and this did not change when they were given the information about saturated fat content. Participants were also willing to pay a premium for lasagne with a lower carbon footprint, but this decreased when they knew these meals contained less meat. Information about the meat content had the unintended consequence of discouraging people to buy lasagne with a low carbon footprint. The study provides an important insight for policy and industry into the effect of labelling information on consumers’ purchasing decisions at a time when people are being encouraged to eat less meat.
Original languageEnglish
Article number124510
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date5 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to thank Sylvia Stephen for help in creating recipes for lasagnes and the cooks at the Human Nutrition Unit at The Rowett Institute for preparing them. Thanks go to Professor Mandy Ryan for her comments on an early version of the manuscript. The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.
this study was funded by the Scottish Government’s Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS).


  • carbon footprint
  • meat
  • Saturated fat
  • non-hypothetical discrete choice experiment
  • willingness to pay
  • sustainable diets
  • Sustainable diets
  • Willingness to pay
  • Carbon footprint
  • Non-hypothetical discrete choice experiment
  • Meat


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