Does sustainability drive purchase intent?  "If you don't have delicious and nutritious food, you can't play at the table"

Does sustainability drive purchase intent? “If you don’t have delicious and nutritious food, you can’t play at the table”

Consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable food and drink products. But how does sustainability influence purchasing decisions?

Today, sustainability is working the “cracks” of consumer retention. tomorrow…?

Food companies across the board have noticed a shift in consumer demand. And whether or not shoppers vote with their wallets, they pretty much say they want eco-friendly food.

According to recent research by Deloitte, the five most important environmentally sustainable or ethical practices for consumers are: producing sustainable packaging and products; reduce waste in the manufacturing process; adherence to ethical business practices; reduce carbon footprint; and respect for human rights.

As these findings indicate, sustainability means different things to different people. “It is very different for everyone. For some people it is sourcing, for others emissions are reduced, for some it is eating less meat, and for many people it is packaging” explained Sam Day, general manager of HelloFresh Group trading company Green Chef at Future Food-Tech in London.

In a brand of health-focused meal kits—which cater to diets including vegetarian, vegan, keto, and low carb—Day noticed a surge in customer demand for sustainability.

But the general manager is not convinced that sustainability is what drives consumers to buy products. However, it does play a role: Day suspects that while sustainability is not a “main driver” – with consumers prioritizing taste, price and convenience – it leads to “retention”.

“Sustainability may not be what breaks selling, but it is what breaks retention. And for us, that is huge.”

In the vegetarian meat analogue category, Taylor Sokol, who heads strategic partnerships at Impossible Foods, notes a growing consumer interest in sustainability—particularly among younger consumers.

Generation Z – people born between 1995 and 2020 – already represent 40% of global consumers. “Seventy-five percent of their buying behavior is based on brands and products that have some sort of sustainability initiative,” Sokol told delegates at this week’s Tastewise Talks event.

“this is [should be] Crucial when marketers, salespeople, and business leaders build a story around their brand and [explaining] The essence of their raison d’être.”

At the same time, leading strategic partnerships do not believe that sustainability alone will move the needle in consumers’ purchasing intent. Not yet at least: “[In a few] Years down the road, I really think that will change.”

At Plant-Based, Sustainability Isn’t `Our Top Priority’

Leveraging AI to analyze consumer trends suggests similar results: Sustainability is important to the consumer, but it is not a “top of mind” when making purchasing decisions.

Israeli startup Tastewise analyzes restaurant and delivery menus, social media interactions, and online home recipes to help food and beverage creators find market opportunities.

According to Tastewise co-founder and CEO Alon Chen, price and taste are the main drivers consumers when deciding which products to buy. How the brand makes the consumer feel is also important (whether it is seen as affecting social status, for example), as is availability and nutrition.

“When you look at sustainability more specifically… it is important to understand that the most important thing in the mind of the consumer is not to eat sustainably. Sustainability is something that has to be there, along with the other things they think about. [important]. “

In plant-based consumption, for example, the biggest consideration for consumers is health, he told delegates during a Tastewise Talks event. “It’s five times more [important] of animal welfare and sustainability together.”

Across “many categories,” Tastewise notes that consumers “don’t care enough” about sustainability to change their buying behavior.

For the best result, “layer” the sustainability according to taste and nutrition

Does this mean that companies should not prioritize sustainability? Of course, they must, but if sustainability is the company’s core value proposition, they may struggle to win over consumers.

That’s the perspective of Rachel Conrad, chief brand officer at Investment Board Production, who previously served as Tesla’s director of communications and head of communications at Impossible Foods.

“If you have not. 1 The value proposition to consumers is sustainability, no offense, but you screw up,” She told reps at Future Food-Tech last month.

The main electric vehicle Tesla, where Conrad has worked for nearly three years, today accounts for 60-80% of the electric vehicle market in the United States. Tesla’s total car market share in the United States, China and Europe combined is about 2.1%. It can’t just be attributed to its sustainability credentials, we’re told, but it plays a role in consumer loyalty.

“Tesla won the market because it was faster than a Lamborghini, had a better user interface, and it’s the safest car ever tested.” [according to] Consumer Reports, it has the best stereo…

“The fact that it’s also able to be powered entirely by solar panels on your roof, that’s what makes people a lifelong fan.”

Essentially, if Tesla hadn’t been faster, better, or safer, Conrad doesn’t think it would have achieved such a large market share.

The company’s former chief communications officer suggested the same could be true for Impossible Foods. While working for the company, Konrad believed that the consumer’s drive to purchase impossible vegan meat analogues could largely be attributed to taste and nutrition.

“If you don’t have nutritious and delicious foods, you can’t even play at the table. But if you have that, and then focus on sustainability, that is a magical combination.”

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