Food Sustainability Matters

A presentation by NielsenIQ at this week’s Natural & Organic Products Europe emphasised how and why sustainability will be one of the major drivers for change across the food industry at a global level.

April 19, 2023
Jennifer John
mini shopping trolley in a grassy area
April 19, 2023
Jennifer John

Whilst the data didn’t reveal anything new as such, it did show the depth of change in consumer attitude globally and clearly demonstrated the need for organisations to ensure their strategy meets the growing needs of consumers who want to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

As you would expect there were differences from country to country as to what was more important to consumers. Globally, there is a 42% increase in consumers saying that sustainability was important to them, in just 2 years – here in the UK that figure was slightly lower at 35%,

Consumers want to shop (and live) sustainably – with 80% making simple sustainable choices, like using recyclable bags, only buying what is needed (the growing food waste trend was repeated in other presentations during the day too), and consciously recycling more.

But the point was made loud and clear that if businesses are going to maximise the sustainability ‘trend’ they must make it easier for consumers. Cost is unsurprisingly a barrier to shopping sustainably, but  brands must be transparent and authentic in what they do and say too:

·         A quarter of consumers (26%) said they found it difficult to find sustainable options on shelf

·         13% of UK consumers don’t trust sustainable claims

·         And 30% are less likely to buy brands that are found guilty of greenwashing.

Looking ahead sustainable packaging will remain key and local/ responsible sourcing will also be important, with distribution expected to be the next area of concern for consumers who are looking to increase their sustainable shopping habits.

The presentation concluded with some thoughts on what the future of sustainable retailing might look like. We are already seeing some of these amongst some of Ceres’ clients and in the wider food / retail industry space…like vertical farming, refillables and electric delivery vehicles, but it will be interesting to see if some of the other suggestions come to fruition. One idea proposed is an App that lets shoppers track the sustainability impact of their basket and  rewards loyalty points for choosing more sustainable products – although who and how these are selected remains to be seen!

Either way, the one thing I think we can all be sure of is that green is going to be the colour of the future of retailing.