Kerry has released new market research revealing consumer expectations around sustainability, according to a press release. The survey covered 14,000 consumers over 18 countries.

49% of consumers are now considering sustainability when buying food and drink, the press release states, and their understanding of the issue, initially based in environmental and social responsibility, is evolving to include sustainable wellbeing and sustainable nutrition. Kerry’s takeaway: Sustainable packaging and environmental preservation are now considered standard for many consumers.

Consumers feel that sustainability directly impacts them, and that it is something on which they can have an impact, through things like food waste reduction, personal health and nutrition, and clean label product claims including ‘locally sourced,’ ‘no artificial ingredients,’ and ‘organic.’ This is particularly true in consumers in ‘sustainability-mature’ markets such as the United Kingdom, Benelux, and France.

However, sustainability-mature markets are not the only markets where customers feel sustainability is important. 84% of those surveyed felt it was important for each person to contribute, and three in four felt that primary responsibility was on the industry.

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Kerry separated consumers into four key archetypes, based on consumer understanding of sustainability and their level of sustainability adoption. The company’s research also noted age group differences, with younger millennials and gen Z engaged and willing to act, but expecting manufacturers, brands, and external authorities to take the lead. The press release cites Kantar research, which estimates that consumers already engaged with sustainability wield overall spending power of $382 billion, offering a massive opportunity for brands looking to take the lead on this.

“This research has unveiled some really surprising results that have positioned sustainability as a must-have rather than a differentiator among consumers,” said Soumya Nair, Insights Director, Kerry. “It’s interesting to see the rise of intrinsic associations of sustainability in not only mature sustainability markets like the United Kingdom, Benelux and France, but across all countries. These sustainability-minded consumers are actively seeking out food and beverage products that have a significantly positive impact on the planet as well as on their personal health and wellbeing, seeking products with clean label claims and locally sourced ingredients. In addition, the different expectations between consumer demographics shows how consumers expect companies to do more outside of issues such as sustainable packaging, carbon emissions and water conservation.

“These findings have major implications for the food and drinks industry as we are clearly at a significant and critical moment regarding sustainable nutrition,” Nair continued. “By helping consumers access more sustainable products, we can help them eat healthier, with less waste and improve local communities as a result.”

Find the full report onKerry's website.