A Supermarket Double-Dollar Incentive Program Increases Purchases of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Among Low-Income Families With Children: The Healthy Double Study

J Nutr Educ Behav. 2018 Mar;50(3):217-228.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2017.09.013. Epub 2017 Nov 7.

Abstract

Objective: To carry out a pilot study to determine whether a supermarket double-dollar fruit and vegetable (F&V) incentive increases F&V purchases among low-income families.

Design: Randomized controlled design. Purchases were tracked using a loyalty card that provided participants with a 5% discount on all purchases during a 3-month baseline period followed by the 4-month intervention.

Setting: A supermarket in a low-income rural Maine community.

Participants: A total of 401 low-income and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) supermarket customers.

Intervention: Same-day coupon at checkout for half-off eligible fresh, frozen, or canned F&V over 4 months.

Main outcome measure: Weekly spending in dollars on eligible F&V.

Analysis: A linear model with random intercepts accounted for repeated transactions by individuals to estimate change in F&V spending per week from baseline to intervention. Secondary analyses examined changes among SNAP-eligible participants.

Results: Coupons were redeemed among 53% of eligible baskets. Total weekly F&V spending increased in the intervention arm compared with control ($1.83; 95% confidence interval [CI], $0.29 to $3.88). The largest increase was for fresh F&V ($1.97; 95% CI, $0.49 to $3.44). Secondary analyses revealed greater increases in F&V spending among SNAP-eligible participants who redeemed coupons ($5.14; 95% CI, $1.93 to $8.34) than among non-SNAP eligible participants who redeemed coupons ($3.88; 95% CI, $1.67 to $6.08).

Conclusions and implications: A double-dollar pricing incentive increased F&V spending in a low-income community despite the moderate uptake of the coupon redemption. Customers who were eligible for SNAP saw the greatest F&V spending increases. Financial incentives for F&V are an effective strategy for food assistance programs to increase healthy purchases and improve dietary intake in low-income families.

Keywords: SNAP; SNAP policy; behavioral economics; financial incentives for fruit and vegetable purchase promotion; randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Consumer Behavior / economics*
  • Female
  • Food Assistance / economics*
  • Fruit*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Maine
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Poverty
  • Rural Population
  • Vegetables*
  • Young Adult