Carbon labeling describes carbon dioxide emissions across food lifecycles, contributing to enhancing consumers' low-carbon awareness and promoting low-carbon consumption behaviors. In a departure from the existing literature on carbon labeling that heavily relies on interviews or questionnaire surveys, this study forms a hybrid of an auction experiment and a consumption experiment to observe university students' purchase intention and willingness to pay for a carbon-labeled food product. In this study, students from a university in a city (Chengdu) of China, the largest carbon emitter, are taken as the experimental group, and cow's milk is selected as the experimental food product. The main findings of this study are summarized as follows: (1) the purchase of carbon-labeled milk products is primarily influenced by price; (2) the willingness to pay for carbon-labeled milk products primarily depends on the premium; and (3) the students are willing to accept a maximum price premium of 3.2%. This study further offers suggestions to promote the formation of China's carbon product-labeling system and the marketization of carbon-labeled products and consequently facilitate low-carbon consumption in China.
Keywords: auction experiment; carbon-labeled food; consumer behavior; consumption experiment; milk; price premium; purchase intention; university student; willingness to pay.