‘Climatarian’ consumers centre sustainability in food choices9 Nov 2023
The climate is a growing concern for consumers when they choose what type of diet to follow and which food products they buy, according to recent data from packaging giant Tetra Pak.
These environmentally conscious “climatarians” are showing brands that “personal and planetary health [is] now increasingly linked in the mind of the consumer”, Tetra Pak said.
In the Tetra Pak Index 2023 report, 54% of survey respondents said they consider the future of the planet when making food choices, and 70% said that healthy products shouldn’t harm the environment.
“This dual focus is reflected in the rising number of consumers consciously reducing the amount of meat they eat, known as 'flexitarians', with nearly half of all consumers saying they are reducing meat intake or excluding meat altogether,” Tetra Pak said.
Going meatless is going global
Many consumers are choosing to reduce meat in their diets for a variety of reasons. Meat production is harmful to the environment and is significantly contributing to the worsening climate change crisis.
There have also been major improvements to the taste and quality of mainstream vegan and vegetarian food options in restaurants and grocery stores, making it easier for people to make meat-free choices.
The inclination to eat less meat is not only restricted to western markets. The Tetra Pak survey was conducted in 10 countries around the world and found that meat reduction is a “global phenomenon.”
For survey respondents that follow a flexitarian, pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan diet, 56% cited their health and 36% cited the environment as their primary reason.
“There is continued high interest in organic and natural food, and almost half of consumers now strive to be flexitarian or to exclude meat altogether. While in some cases, higher price points have cooled the demand for plant-based protein alternatives, the longer-term forecasts for such products remain strong,” said Adolfo Orive, president and CEO of Tetra Pak.
A need for resilient and sustainable food systems
Consumers are willing to go the extra mile for their preferred choices, with 70% of survey participants saying that they would sacrifice convenience for healthier products. And even though 49% said they are struggling financially, only 17% said they would give up products that are environmentally friendly, healthy, or organic just because they cost more.
“The findings of this year’s Index are reflective of the direction we have taken in the last few years, to decarbonise the food industry and make food systems more resilient and sustainable,” Orive said.
Tetra Pak said this new research will help inform its plans for optimising the food and beverage value chain with innovations in sourcing, packaging, processing and distribution. That includes using renewable or recycled materials that have a low carbon impact, are recyclable and help reduce food waste.
“Considering that the world will need 60% more food by 2050, we are complementing these efforts through technologies that can help explore new sources of nutrition – ranging from new plant-based sources to alternative proteins produced with biomass and precision fermentation. Both these areas are critical to contribute towards food system sustainability,” Orive said.
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