Will Tea Drinkers Pay More for a Climate-Friendly Cup?


Tufts research could help inform future strategies to shift consumer behavior.

The fight against climate change could soon be coming to your supermarket shelf. But if food companies label products with lower greenhouse gas emissions, will shoppers pay more for them? When it comes to tea, the answer is complicated, according to a team at Tufts.

“Most people in our study preferred climate-friendly tea over other options, but low-income shoppers were more willing to reach into their wallets and pay more for it,” said Sean Cash, an economist and the Bergstrom Foundation professor in global nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. “We also found that people who knew more about climate change weren’t necessarily more likely to choose the climate-friendly option.”

As part of Tufts University’s Tea & Climate Change Collaborative, Cash and Rebecca Boehm, N12, now an economist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, designed an experiment to tease out which demographic characteristics and attitudes might influence the decision to pay more for a product that had less impact on climate change. Their study was published in the journal Sustainability in September.

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