Survey: 55 Percent of Consumers Prefer Sustainable Food Options

Consumers in developing countries showed the most rapid increase in sustainably made foods. Developed countries experienced more modest gains.

Feb. 16, 2022
By Paolo DeAndreis

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The lat­est con­sumer sur­vey from Cargill, one of the world’s largest agri­cul­tural ser­vices and food pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies, demon­strates that shop­pers are increas­ingly con­scious of sus­tain­abil­ity when mak­ing food pur­chases.

The lat­est FATitudes Survey was con­ducted on 6,000 shop­pers in 11 coun­tries. Fifty-five per­cent of the inter­viewed con­sumers said that they are more likely to buy a spe­cific item if it comes with a sus­tain­abil­ity claim, up from 51 per­cent in 2019.

Our lat­est find­ings clearly demon­strate that mes­sages sur­round­ing sus­tain­abil­ity are hav­ing an impact on con­sumers.- Nese Tagma, man­ag­ing direc­tor of strat­egy and inno­va­tion, Cargill

Even in coun­tries where con­sumers are less inter­ested in sus­tain­abil­ity, the num­bers are grow­ing.

In the United States, the sur­vey reported that 37 per­cent of Americans fac­tor sus­tain­abil­ity into their food selec­tion process, a six-per­cent increase com­pared with 2019.

See Also:Europe’s New Sustainable Agricultural Policies Will Make Foods Even More Expensive, Farmers Warn

Other coun­tries such as Brazil and Mexico have reported a 13-per­cent increase in the same period, with 74 per­cent of Brazilian con­sumers and 66 per­cent of Mexican con­sumers inter­ested in the sus­tain­abil­ity pro­file of the food they choose.

India also has seen this fig­ure grow to 67 per­cent (an 11-per­cent increase). Meanwhile, the United Kingdom saw inter­est in food sus­tain­abil­ity rise to 51 per­cent, an eight-per­cent increase.

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Cargill, which is a major pro­ducer of palm oil, stressed how the sur­vey asked con­sumers what kind of sus­tain­abil­ity claim they would expect for the first time.

The top results went to claims such as sus­tain­ably sourced” and con­ser­va­tion of nat­ural resources.” According to Cargill, those fared well ahead of known labels such as Fair Trade” or reduced pack­ag­ing.”

Our lat­est find­ings clearly demon­strate that mes­sages sur­round­ing sus­tain­abil­ity are hav­ing an impact on con­sumers,” said Nese Tagma, man­ag­ing direc­tor of strat­egy and inno­va­tion for Cargill’s global edi­ble oils busi­ness. Insights like these help guide our con­sumer-focused approach to inno­va­tion, enabling us to part­ner with cus­tomers to co-cre­ate new prod­ucts and solu­tions that reflect cur­rent con­sumer trends and ingre­di­ent pref­er­ences.”

In a press release, Cargill stressed the rel­e­vance of regen­er­a­tive agri­cul­ture pro­grams for row crop oilseeds to palm oil cer­ti­fied as respon­si­bly sourced by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.”

The palm oil mar­ket has been steadily expand­ing over time. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 75,503 tons of palm oil were pro­duced in 2021. Indonesia (59 per­cent) and Malaysia (25 per­cent) are by far the largest pro­duc­ers.

The sig­nif­i­cance of sus­tain­abil­ity for the future of the palm oil mar­ket is enor­mous. Recently, the European Union has announced new rules for edi­ble oil, which will require sus­tain­abil­ity cer­ti­fi­ca­tions for prod­ucts to be imported within the 27-mem­bers block.

In other coun­tries, such as Sri Lanka, the gov­ern­ment has banned imports and asked farm­ers to uproot their palm tree plan­ta­tions, as they have been seen as a cause of defor­esta­tion.

Referring to the sur­vey results, Florian Schattenmann, chief tech­nol­ogy offi­cer and vice pres­i­dent of inno­va­tion and research and devel­op­ment for Cargill, noted how these insights fur­ther affirm our com­mit­ment to embed sus­tain­able prac­tices into every aspect of our oper­a­tions.”

This includes every­thing from our sourc­ing prac­tices to pro­cess­ing facil­i­ties, and even extends to new prod­uct devel­op­ment, where deci­sions to com­mer­cial­ize inno­va­tions now con­sider sus­tain­abil­ity along­side per­for­mance and cost,” he con­cluded.



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