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September 27, 2022

One in four consumers said they don’t know what makes food and drink sustainable / Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Consumers have named the food and beverage industry as one of the most important industries when it comes to sustainability, according to a report released this month by research firm Morning Consult.

However, they don’t seem to have complete confidence in the industry’s sustainability efforts, as only 19% said they have “a lot” of confidence in the industry to do what’s right for the environment.

Conversely, a majority of American adults (60%) said they have at least some confidence in the industry’s efforts.

Despite the perception of the importance of sustainability, one in four consumers said they do not know what makes food and drink sustainable.

“A general lack of knowledge about where our food comes from and how it gets to our tables contributes to this lack of sustainability awareness,” the report said. “Most consumers in the United States are far removed from the origin and processing of the food they eat.”

One aspect of sustainability that consumers seem to be aware of is more environmentally friendly packaging, which was the second most common response from consumers when describing what being sustainable means for a food and beverage brand.

The report also found that food and drink brands’ environmental impact is more important to consumers than their own, with Morning Consult survey respondents expressing more concern about food waste generated by shops, restaurants and manufacturers than themselves. While consumers were less concerned about their own behavior, about half said they were concerned about household food waste and the impact of their overall diet on the environment.

In addition, they show a willingness to share the costs of sustainability and responsibility with food and beverage brands, as 42% said consumers and brands should pay equally for these costs, rather than brands bearing more of the burden. Less than a third (28%) said brands should pay more.

When it comes to consumer behavior, Generation Z, millennials and Democrats are more likely to say climate change is affecting how they eat and drink. However, the impact of diet on climate change has emerged as a consideration for many consumers, with one in five saying it has a major impact on their daily food and drink behaviour.

Morning Consult collected survey responses from approximately 4,400 American adults collected during June and July 2022 for this report.

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