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Over 66% Of UK Consumers Open To Shift To Sustainable Diets: Study IGD

More than 66% of consumers in the UK are ready to shift to healthy and sustainable diets, a new study by IGD has revealed.

Around 13% of consumers said they were unlikely to change their diet, while 21% said they did not give the idea a thought yet.

Primary Driver

According to the Appetite for Change study, health emerged as the primary driver of dietary change, especially among consumers between the ages of 45-54, and the higher socioeconomic groups.

It was also observed that people were more concerned about personal and family health than environmental impact when making purchase decisions.

The research revealed that 37% of respondents considered personal health as the primary factor for a change in diet, while 21% considered family health.

Environmental reasons were cited by 15% of participants, while 12% were driven by taste.

Susan Barratt, CEO of IGD, commented, "Our food system sustains us, nourishes us and supports our health and wellbeing. We produce, consume and waste more food than ever before and with the health of the nation and the future security of our environment at risk, how the food system currently operates and delivers requires a significant shift."

Confused Customers

The research also highlighted that customers were ‘confused’ about their eating habits.

Most customers rated their diets 6.3 on a scale of 10 in terms of health and sustainability, which the research says is overestimated.

This observation is based on data from consumers’ food diaries, which showed that the balance of food groups consumed by them did not correspond to the dietary recommendations of the Eatwell Guide.

Barratt added, "While the Eatwell Guide provides a useful direction of travel for consumers, we are a long way from meeting this guidance. This new research focuses on consumer behaviour, as we believe the real opportunity comes from changing diets; if we work with our industry to empower and enable consumers, they will help drive the change required."

The food diaries revealed that the portions contained too much carbohydrate, meat and lacked the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables.

Portion sizes were also found to be incorrect, the study added.

Barriers To Sustainable Diet

Cost emerged as the primary barrier to adopting a sustainable diet, with 41% of respondents saying that they found it more expensive.

Other factors that customers perceived as a barrier include lack of familiarity, convenience and the perception that it requires more time and effort.

The IGD also identified several steps that would help the food and grocery industry to encourage customers to change their buying behaviour.

These include, among others, easy transition through small initiatives such as ‘meat-free Mondays’; highlighting the benefits of healthy and sustainable items; and effective product positioning in stores, like placing plant-based options next to meat products.

Barratt added, "Appetite for Change identifies huge opportunities to start shifting people’s behaviour and recommends next steps the food industry can take in this direction.

"We all have a role to play, but our impact will be much greater if we come together to drive the change required. We are keen to continue this work with industry and academia to test different approaches and identify the most effective initiatives to drive positive change."

The Study

The study included quantitative and qualitative research with various stakeholders in the food industry, academia, government, NGOs.

It included a review of existing literature, media, and industry conversations, and engagement with the online community through a seven-day food diary of 24 customers.

It also involved stakeholder workshops, focus group studies in London and Leeds, and an online quantitative survey with 1,000 consumers in the UK.

© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Dayeeta Das. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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