Conscious consumption is the trend - because look, taste, image and packaging are not enough today. As consumers become more critical and are increasingly concerned about the future of the earth, their purchasing decisions must be consistent with their values. Sustainability and corporate social responsibility are demanded and assumed by more and more consumers today for conscious consumption.
Since the corona crisis at the latest, more and more people have been relying on conscious consumption. In view of the many social, ecological, economic and social challenges that we face today in a variety of ways, the desire for change has been growing louder and louder - both on a small and large scale - especially since we began to feel the consequences of the pandemic worldwide. In Italy alone, more than a third (34 percent) of the surveyed consumers over the age of 16 say that the environment has risen in the priority list since the outbreak of Covid-19. In Brazil, 48 percent of adults share this opinion, in India even 70 percent.
Source: Cross-Category Trends in Sustainability, Mintel, November 2020
Many consumers assume that we are at a turning point where the course will be set for important developments for the earth and society. They see themselves as part of a great whole, are aware of the responsibility in their sphere of activity and want to assume this.
They also demand this responsibility from the companies they buy from: According to Mintel, 42 percent of US consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 say that taking measures to protect the environment is the best way for brands to express their ethical values. 19 percent of Canadians in this age group say they are attracted to advertisements for corporate environmental protection activities. 37 percent of young consumers between the ages of 12 and 18 in the UK state that they are concerned about climate change and in the USA it is "very important" for 66 percent of those surveyed that companies act morally and ethically correctly and therefore more consciously consumption becomes possible.
Source: Cross-Category Trends in Sustainability, Mintel, November 2020With the 2021 trends in food & beverages, it will be essential for companies to emphasize ecological and social responsibility as an essential part of the corporate strategy for conscious consumption. Investing in traceability is the key, write the Euromonitor experts in the report “Passport - From Sustainability to Purpose: Realigning Corporate Priorities in Food and Nutrition” (November 2020). Especially as part of a long-term strategy, sustainability is an increasing value for the times after the pandemic that needs to be pursued now. In the very short term, health has come to the fore, but sustainability will become even more important when the “survival mechanism” of consumers is no longer as active as now. Regionality in particular has become more important since the pandemic - a development that will continue.
Ethic & sustainability deals with social responsibility regardless of applicable legal provisions. Measures and practices that may be legal, but ethically morally reprehensible, will no longer be tolerated by the general public who wants to be conscious of consumption. For example, food productions that are linked to minimum prices and more pronounced social standards are increasingly finding their way into the assortments of brands and supermarkets.
For various reasons, plant-based will play a crucial role in the near future of conscious consumption. The younger generations of consumers in particular are increasingly counting themselves among the vegetarians, vegans and flexitarians. While the former lifestyles make up a rather small percentage of the population despite their high presence on social media, the flexitarian movement has greater chances of penetrating the mainstream. As a logical consequence, the plant-based market will continue to grow. A “mixed” lifestyle, in which significantly less meat is consumed, promotes the possibility of promoting regenerative agriculture and foodstuffs based on biodiversity to a greater extent thanks to the diverse diet.
The efforts of the companies should be holistic from the consumer's point of view. A company or a brand scores points if the efforts are not only aimed at maximizing profits, but also protect and strengthen the resources of the environment, making conscious consumption possible.
In a regenerative model of resource use, material flows are closed into cycles and waste itself is made a resource again: These concepts are currently on the upswing - be it in production processes, in direct relation to food and its packaging. Demands for zero waste, circular or re-use food are increasing, and some supermarkets have already specialized in selling their goods entirely without packaging.
In addition to the aspects already mentioned, the assessment of the entire supply chain and the striving for climate neutrality, even climate negativity, are included in purchase decisions. A topic with which you as a company are now in the fast lane. Seasonal as well as regional products with short distances and natural cultivation options have a great benefit for conscious consumption!
As a company, you can/may and should be proud of your commitment and also publicize your activities, because consumers are waiting to find out about it.
It will be exciting in future with regard to the question of the form in which the merging of nature and technology will be a decisive driver for holistic sustainability goals. There are already approaches and first implementations to produce plant-based meat and fish alternatives up to in vitro cultivation using alternative production methods. How consumers react to this remains to be seen.
Conscious consumption is a trend that is becoming increasingly important for companies in the long term due to the corona crisis. Ethically and morally correct action and sustainability in the entire production and supply chain have risen on the scale of values for consumers around the world and are increasingly required. In connection with climate protection and the megatrend health, plant-based products in particular will be more popular in the food and beverage industry.
AGRANA 2021 Consumer Trends
Food Report 2021 – Hanni Rützler
Market Intelligence & Innovation Manager