Post by Allison Aubrey, The Salt at NPR Food (3/19/13)
At $2.50 a pound, broccoli may seem too expensive. But cut the price by 25 percent, and our thinking about whether we should buy it may change.
A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concludes that rebates on healthy food purchases lead to significant changes in what people put in their grocery carts.
It was actually South Africa's largest insurer, Discovery, in partnership with Vitality Group, that decided to offer 10 percent and 25 percent cash-back rebates to members of its health promotion program on fruits, vegetables, non-fat dairy and other healthful foods at one supermarket chain. (To get the 25 percent rebate, members had to fill out a questionnaire.)
Researchers at the RAND Corporation then looked at their spending on these foods and found that they increased 9.3 percent (calculated as a ratio of spending on healthy food to total food spending) with the 25 percent rebate. A 10 percent rebate nudged people to buy healthier stuff, too, just a little less — a 6 percent increase.