Photo: USA store by Eurofresh Distribution Magazine
US consumers are making lifestyle changes to reduce food waste, according to new research by Proagrica. The study found that 76% of shoppers say they are more likely to shop more often and in smaller quantities to avoid having to throw away unwanted or spoiled food. Around 74% are now likely to buy more frozen food for the same reason, and 50% state they are now prepared to buy the “ugly” fruit and vegetables.
Men are more willing than women to accept less attractive foodstuffs (56% vs 46%).
As for who is most responsible for food waste, 41% of respondents said it is farmers, while 42% said it is manufacturers. Less than a quarter said it was consumers’ responsibility to reduce food waste by changing their own behaviours and shopping habits. Hence, the study suggests that the onus is on the food sector to do more to reduce the amount of discarded food. Nevertheless, 77% say they’re trying to reduce “food miles” by buying more locally sourced produce.
Graeme McCracken, managing director at Proagrica, said: “US consumers still feel it is primarily the responsibility of farmers and food producers to do more to alleviate the problem. Businesses in the food and agriculture industries need to actively show they are working together to make their operational processes more transparent and more efficient.”
Research published by Barclays reveals how British consumers have changed their grocery shopping habits as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. One quarter of UK consumers now claim to buy produce in local shops and farm stores, instead of supermarket-only purchasing, reports The Financial. Over 7 million consumers who had never visited a farm shop prior to the pandemic now visit regularly. In addition, 63 per cent of Brits claim they will be buying more home-grown produce as a result of the pandemic and Brexit.
The research uncovers an appetite for sustainably sourced foods, with just under half looking to purchase seasonal produce, an indication that consumers recognise their role in helping the sector become carbon neutral. Additionally, just over half believe grocery shopping from local stores and farm shops is better for the environment, and 45 per cent think purchasing from these outlets helps them to better understand where their produce has come from. Around two thirds of farmers plan to sell and process at least some of their produce locally within the next three years.
British consumers are keen to understand how they can further reduce their carbon footprint, with 56 per cent wanting to support farmers more so the industry can become carbon neutral. Nearly half of those surveyed suggest they would like to see a dedicated aisle in shops for sustainably sourced foods, and 61 per cent think that shops need to provide better information on how shoppers can improve their carbon footprint. This would be hugely helpful for the industry’s ambitions, as 45 per cent of respondents didn’t know if it was possible to buy carbon neutral foods.
Consumers’ number-one priority right now is to ensure their food is safe to eat. This is the perhaps unsurprising finding of certification body DNV GL’s ViewPoint survey, which interviewed 4,500 consumers from across the globe about their food purchasing habits. The study found that food safety (55%) and health issues (53%) are what most concern consumers right now, rather than more global issues such as the environment (38%) and social aspects (35%) relating to food purchases.
Human rights (13%) and animal welfare (16%) appear to be taking a back seat while the world confronts the coronavirus pandemic.
Joy Franks-Laing, global food and beverage manager at DNV GL Business Assurance, said, “Food safety is still top of the agenda for consumers. However, the survey results seem to indicate that while food and beverage manufacturers and retailers may have invested considerably in protecting consumers, they are not 100 per cent convinced that all products are safe to consume.” The report also highlighted a major trust gap, with unbranded packaged food (69%) not commanding the same degree of trust as branded goods (85%). Just 19% of respondents reported using QR codes on packaging regularly. However, this proportion would rise to 65% if it was perceived to offer insights into a product’s origin and verification of food safety standards being met. And 69% consumers are willing to pay more if product information is verified or if the product or manufacturer is certified to a food safety standard.
The survey was conducted in March 2020 using the CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interviewing) methodology, and it involved 4,500 consumers across 15 countries in Europe, North America, South America and Asia.