Sustainability continues to be at the forefront of hot topics within our industry. It’s nearly impossible to go a day or two without news related to our environment. Plastic bottles, bags, and straws continue to garner attention, leading companies to increasingly seek environmentally friendly alternatives. Similarly, a recent poll of US teens found that roughly one in four have taken part in some form of protest to advocate for change in climate policy. The question: what matters most?
This October, we launched an online study of over 400 consumers aged 18 – 54 to better understand what is on their minds when it comes to the planet. Do they care? Are they making lifestyle changes? Or, is it just the media?
Survey results showed that the environment is clearly a concern, but habits often lag intentions. While 56% of consumers expressed concern about the impact of their behaviors on the environment, only 31% admit to changing their daily habits frequently to live more environmentally friendly lifestyles.
Recycling appears to be a top priority, with 52% preferring to do so over buying disposable items. Other food choices that are inherently planet-friendly are a bit slower to gain traction with mainstream consumers. Only 27% of those surveyed indicated that they seek out local and organic products as much as possible, or that they regularly seek out milk alternatives. Similarly, only 25% are attempting to eat less meat and follow a more vegetarian-oriented diet.
As for Millennials, they directionally express more concern for the environment than their elders, but only slightly so. Their food-seeking habits are also on-par with those of their 35 – 54 year-old counterparts.
Our opinion? While planet-friendly diet choices are important to some, they still have a long way to go before becoming the ‘go-to’ choice of the average consumer. Nevertheless, they are an important consideration for menu strategies for the future as these trends will likely continue to become more in demand as familiarity increases.