Knowledge for better food systems

Most consumers willing to pay more for sustainable beer

Image: Engin_Akyurt, Beer Alcohol The Drink, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons

According to a survey of US beer drinkers, 59% would be willing to pay more for beer that has been brewed using more sustainable processes, such as energy efficiency or carbon saving measures. On average, respondents were willing to pay $0.22 more per 12-ounce bottle than the price they already paid for their favourite beer ($1.69 per 12-ounce bottle).

The study found that people who already paid a higher price for their favourite beer were more likely to pay an additional premium for “sustainable” beer. However, other factors such as price, quality and brand still influence purchasing decisions - brewers should therefore take care that sustainability measures do not damage these other factors, the paper warns.

It would be interesting to know how far the findings of this paper would correspond to purchasing behaviour in the real world. You may be interested in the “value-action gap” concept, which means that people do not always take actions that are in line with their values. See, for example, the papers Green thinking but thoughtless buying? An empirical extension of the value-attitude-behaviour hierarchy in sustainable clothing and Using Residential Location to Assess the Environmental Value-Action Gap of Students at James Madison University.

 

Abstract

Breweries across the country are investing in energy efficient and low-carbon brewing practices. Drawing insights from the sustainable consumption and ecological economics literature, this analysis evaluates whether consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable beer and what predicts the value of the premium. Based on a survey of beer consumers from across the U.S. that contained one of two willingness-to-pay exercises, we evaluate what respondent attributes are associated with a higher willingness-to-pay for sustainably brewed beer. We find that the majority of beer consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable beer. Consumers who are prepared to pay a premium tend to already pay more per unit of beer, are more aware of their purchasing behavior and the manner in which their consumption patterns may affect the environment, and pursue lifestyles based on professional advancement, helping the environment, and helping other causes.

 

Reference

Carley, S. and Yahng, L., 2018. Willingness-to-pay for sustainable beer. PloS one, 13(10), p.e0204917.

Read the full paper here. See also the Foodsource resource How far could changes in consumption reduce GHG emissions? and the FCRN discussion paper The Alcohol we drink and its contribution to the UK's Greenhouse Gas emissions.

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North America is the northern subcontinent of the Americas covering about 16.5% of the Earth's land area. This large continent has a range of climates spanning Greenland’s permanent ice sheet and the dry deserts of Arizona. Both Canada and the USA are major food producers and some of the largest food exporters in the world. Industrial farms are the norm in North America, with high yields relative to other regions and only 2% of the population involved in agriculture.

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