Food choices impact your health and the environment. Most people know what is smart to eat, but may take something else instead. So how help lunch guests choose better? Our suggestion is to use green nudging to make them take a step in the right direction.

Green nudging makes it easier to choose right

– The idea of nudging is based on scientific research on how people actually make decisions in everyday life, says psychologist Knut Ivar Karevold Associate Professor at the University of Oslo and Norwegian Business School - and Director of GreeNudge.

The concept of nudging is based on Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman’s work on Behavioural Economics and was developed further in the book “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness” by Sunstein and Thaler.

– In most cases, people choose what to take quickly, intuitively and rely on simple and time-efficient decision strategies. Changing the design of the situation where people make their choice can thereby influence decisions. This is a nudge, says Karevold.

Encouraging results
In collaboration with GreeNudge, we found a way to gently encourage our lunch guests to take more of the healthier dishes. For instance by changing how and in which order food options were presented and the information guests were influenced by.
Based on our observations several nudges where developed and GreeNudge had workshops with our restaurant managers and staff to discuss how they could be implemented. We trained the staff and produced printed manuals and video tutorials.
The tests involved three restaurants in Stockholm, Sweden and two restaurants in Helsinki, Finland.
The result was encouraging. For example, the amount of protein salad consumed doubled and the vegetarian warm buffet increased with up to almost a third. The amount of fish increased with up to almost a half, whereas the meat consumption decreased with up to almost a fifth.

Making real difference
We are now on our way in implementing nudging at all 1 200 Nordic restaurants, which will make us the first food service provider to use nudging at a large scale.

– It will positively affect about 500 000 guests every day, and make them healthier, says Knut Ivar Karlevold. And the guests like it. We also measured guest satisfaction and the level of satisfaction was the same or higher after nudging was implemented.
Nudging is the future way of corporate responsibility, helping people to make healthier and more environmental friendly choices. And for Fazer, it is also a way to provide their clients with a way to take care of the employees.

– For example, if you could use nudging to make people eat 100 calories less each lunch, they would lose 7 kilos during a year. Without any diet and with the same menu, says Knut Ivar Karlevold. With Fazer’s 1 200 restaurants, that means a substantial contribution to a better life for many people.

This is nudging
Nudging involves encouraging consumers to make sustainable decisions, without using rules, regulations or incentives.
For Fazer, GreeNudge developed a toolkit based on five nudges.

Priming means implicitly preparing guests for exposure to stimulus, in this case the sensory perception of the food that awaits. It can be to communicating health and wellbeing when the guests enter the restaurant, for example with messages or the ambience with green plants.

Design the order of the dishes for the desired outcomes, say less meat, more salad, more long than short carbs and more vegetables and place the healthiest food categories centrally in the restaurant. This increases choice of healthy alternatives with 10-15 percent

Proximity Placing
Put the nudged choices closer and the others slightly farther away. Place the healthiest choices first in each buffet.

Encourage guests with an attractive presentation, food type clustering and clear labels that explain what the food is and where it's from. Research show that the results improve if the food is described as tasty rather than healthy. People in general tend to think that healthy food doesn’t taste as good.

Let the chef serve proteins to help guests take the right amount. In combination with the size of plate and the position of the tray at the end of the flow, it makes sure the portion is close to what the guest like and need − rather than what's physically possible to load on a tray.