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Europe: Consumers value sustainable wellbeing, nutrition when buying food and drink, finds Kerry’s study

Kerry’s research of 14,000 consumers in 18 countries shows that 49% of consumers are now considering sustainability when buying food and drink and that their understanding of the issue is evolving from environmental and social responsibility to including sustainable wellbeing and sustainable nutrition.

This means that typical associations with sustainability such as sustainable packaging and environmental preservation are now considered to be standard for many consumers.

Consumers, particularly those in more sustainability-mature markets such as UK, 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.’

Sustainability is top-of-mind for consumers around the globe, with the research revealing that 84% of consumers believe it is important for each person to contribute to sustainability.

However, three in four relegate the primary responsibility to the industry.

The largest barrier to adopting sustainability remains consumers’ lack of understanding of their personal impact on the planet.

Four key consumer archetypes emerged from the research, based on consumer understanding of sustainability and their level of sustainability adoption.

These four cohorts of sustainability-minded consumers archetypes sit at different points on the ‘Sustainability Adoption Curve’ and Kerry has labelled them Inactives, Passives, Followers and Frontrunners.

Interest around sustainability varied across age cohorts, with ‘older millennials’ (1980 – 1989), the Frontrunners, more likely to be deeply engaged with the issue (46%).

Meanwhile, Followers (23%) are classified as engaged and willing to act, but expect manufacturers, brands and external authorities such as governments to take the lead in tackling sustainability issues.

Interestingly, this group is likely to be younger millennials and Gen Z, or those born 1999 to 2004.

Passives (24%) are concerned about sustainability but lack understanding of their own impact, while Inactives (6%) care a little but do not take any action, with cost a significant barrier to purchasing more sustainable products.

The consumers originate from countries in North America, Europe, and Latin America including: UK, France, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada, Spain, USA, Italy, Poland, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina, Russia and Columbia.

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