Active choice

Do we value sustainability when it comes to our choices as consumers? I believe so – and my belief is backed up by research. Sustainability considerations now influence the majority of the world’s grocery shoppers when buying packaged foods such as potato chips and cookies, according to Cargill’s most recent global FATitudes survey.

The proprietary research finds 55% of consumers indicate they’re more likely to purchase a packaged food item if it includes a sustainability claim, a four-point jump since the company last fielded this research in 2019. 

Messages surrounding sustainability are certainly having an impact on consumers. 

Cargill adds that its global FATitudes survey provides a window into consumers’ awareness, perceptions and behaviours around the fats and oils found in packaged food. The latest global survey, conducted in summer 2021, included approximately 6,000 primary grocery shoppers in 11 countries. 

In this most recent round of research, an increased interest in sustainability was the most notable change from the previous survey’s results. More than half of the countries surveyed showed an increase in the influence of sustainability claims, with the change most evident in the following countries:

  • Brazil and Mexico both saw 13 point increases in the purchase impact of sustainability claims between 2019 and 2021. Sustainability claims now drive purchase decisions for 74% of consumers in Brazil and 66% in Mexico. 
  • India posted double-digit increases, too, with 67% of consumers indicating they were more likely to purchase packaged food with sustainability claims, up 11 points from 2019. 
  • In the UK, Cargill found 51% of consumers now say they place a greater emphasis on sustainability, an 8 point jump in just two years.

For the first time, the survey also asked consumers what type of sustainability claim they were looking for. “Sustainably sourced” and “conservation of natural resources” topped the list, ranking well ahead of more specific claims such as Fair Trade, reduced packaging and fair/living wages in most every country included in the survey. 

It is clear from this survey that as a whole, consumers are becoming increasingly more conscious of the impact that their shopping habits can have on the planet. They are also expectant of companies being more transparent with their sustainability efforts in order to become more sustainable with their own shopping habits.

A good product is no longer enough to win a consumer’s favour. Shoppers want more than just quality, often looking for products and brands that hit the mark with their personal values. 

It seems so obvious. Why support a brand financially if we don’t agree with their social and environmental values? In the face of climate change, those of us who care enough are ready to consider the consequences of our shopping habits.

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