Mintel: Consumer demand for sustainable food, drink grows

CHICAGO More than 13,000 new sustainable food and drink products have been tracked in the Mintel global new products database since 2005, and 84% of consumers said they regularly purchase such products, according to a new Mintel survey.

But while 84% of consumers stated their purchases of "green" or sustainable food and drink products are frequent, some of them are unaware of what such claims actually mean. According to the new survey:

  • 40% of consumers polled have never heard of the solar/wind energy usage claim;
  • 37% said they've never purchased food or drink bearing the claim;
  • 32% of consumers have never heard of or seen a reduced carbon footprint/emissions claim; and
  • 34% have never heard of a Fair Trade claim.

"Packaging claims such as 'recyclable' or 'eco- or environmentally friendly' are fairly well-known to consumers, but sustainable product claims, such as 'solar/wind energy usage' or 'Fair Trade,' have yet to enter the mainstream consumer consciousness," said David Browne, senior analyst at Mintel. "They may have heard of the terms, but they'd be hard-pressed to define them."

Despite being unaware that such product claims exist, 45% of sustainable food and drink users said they continue to buy these products because they believe sustainable products offer superior quality. What's more, 43% of consumers purchase green products because they care about the environemnt, while another 42% said their purchases are motivated by their food safety concerns.

"These reasons vary in importance across different demographics. What's most important to young adults may not be the primary deciding factor for affluent consumers," Browne added. "Marketers should consider this in their claims closely; noting that health, welfare and safety are important for nearly all consumers."