Nearly half of consumers now consider sustainability when buying food and drinks, Kerry’s new global consumer survey finds

More than 14,000 consumers across 18 countries in North America, Europe, and Latin America were surveyed.

Nearly half of global consumers consider the sustainability of food and drinks when making purchase decisions, a new survey by ingredients firm Kerry (Beloit, WI) found. Kerry says this survey is one of the largest of its kind. More than 14,000 consumers across 18 countries in North America, Europe, and Latin America were surveyed.

Results show that 49% of consumers consider sustainability when buying food and drinks. “This means that typical associations with sustainability, such as sustainable packaging and environmental preservation, are now considered to be standard for many consumers,” the company stated in a press release. The company points out that consumers now also consider long-term well-being and sustainable nutrition to be part of sustainability.

“Consumers, particularly those in more sustainability-mature markets such as United Kingdom, Benelux, and France, are now considering sustainability as something that directly impacts them and upon which they can have an impact, such as food waste reduction, personal health and nutrition, and clean-label claims such as ‘locally sourced,’ ‘no artificial ingredients,’ and ‘organic,’” the company states.

Soumya Nair, Kerry’s insights director, said, “These sustainability-minded consumers are actively seeking out food and beverage products that have a significantly positive impact on the planet as well as on their personal health and well-being, seeking products with clean-label claims and locally sourced ingredients. In addition, the different expectations between consumer demographics show how consumers expect companies to do more outside of issues such as sustainable packaging, carbon emissions, and water conservation.”

Consumers are relying heavily on companies themselves to take responsibility. For instance, while 84% of consumers believe everyone should contribute to sustainability, 75% assign primary responsibility for sustainability to the industry.

Sustainability priorities also differ by age group. The group most likely to be engaged on the topic of sustainability is “older millennials,” those born between 1980 and 1989, the survey found. Younger millennials and Gen Z consumers, those born between 1999 and 2004, also prioritize sustainability but “expect manufacturers, brands, and external authorities such as governments to take the lead in tackling sustainability issues.”

Said Nair, “These findings have major implications for the food and drinks industry as we are clearly at a significant and critical moment regarding sustainable nutrition. But helping consumers access more sustainable products, we can help them eat healthier, with less waste, and improve local communities as a result.”