It’s not easy being green

It’s not easy being green

Eco-anxiety or Climate Anxiety – a chronic fear of environmental doom – is a very real phenomenon and it is on the increase, especially amongst younger generations. And with a growing number of scientific reports calling for immediate and significant climate action, who can blame them?

However a lot of businesses within the grocery industry are responding to the call.

Many larger supermarkets have already implemented some sort of sustainability initiatives, attempting to address everything from packaging to food waste. Some are even setting themselves some big KPIs, with Amazon, Target, and Albertsons in the US and Walmart Canada recently setting themselves zero-emissions targets by 2040, and Amazon and Target both unveiling their first carbon-neutral stores in March 2022.

These changes are not only meaningful, they are also very good business. Amazon was quite explicit in this when they launched their zero-carbon Amazon Fresh store, stating “We know many customers are prioritising sustainability in what products they buy and where they choose to shop.” 

Numerous studies back this assertion up – one survey found that 55% of respondents would be more loyal to brands they perceive to be green, and the same number would be more likely to buy products with a front-of-pack sustainability claim. (1) 

However, one major hurdle is that there is a large amount of mistrust in the efforts of retailers and CPGs, with numerous studies flagging the public’s general wariness around businesses making misleading sustainability claims, or ‘greenwashing’.


Giving shoppers the green light

While sustainability initiatives at the corporate and production level are an impactful step in the right direction, many consumers are simply not aware of them or are suspicious of greenwashing. One recent study found that 67% think retailers have more work to do to boost their sustainability credentials, with 54% believing grocers too often give lip service to sustainable initiatives.(1)

Consumer-level initiatives are therefore also important, not only for visibility, but to help people feel more empowered as shoppers. Recent studies have found that 77% have tried to be more sustainable consumers in the last 12 months(1), with 73% thinking it’s important to buy food with low environmental impact(2). And it seems that many are willing to put their money where their mouth is, with 49% saying they would pay more for green goods, a number which jumped to 64% among millennials(1).

However, one major blocker to the purchase of sustainable food is knowledge. On-pack claims is a good place for CPGs and retailers to start, with over half of shoppers wanting to see better labelling(3) and being more inclined to purchase food with a sustainability claim(1). However, with around 120 different types of eco-labels used on food & drink products globally, it’s easy for consumers to get confused. In fact one US survey(4) found that individual label claims, including “all natural” and “cruelty-free”, were more influential over purchasing decisions than the all-encompassing “USDA Organic” label, because many people simply don’t understand what the ‘Organic’ label includes.

Add to this people’s own personal sustainability priorities, and things can get even more complicated. Some may feel there are benefits to eating a more plant-based diet, while others may not want to reduce red meat, but are avid recyclers. Others still may be more concerned about carbon and travel miles.

Adding sustainability tools to the product discovery journey is an important step to putting the purchasing power back in the hands of consumers. Shoppers want you to make it easier for them to find products that align with their personal sustainability ethos, and implementing online filters or on-shelf labelling helps keep your sustainability initiatives at eye-level throughout the shopping journey.

Complimenting your businesses eco efforts with a platform that clearly allows consumers to also take straightforward and meaningful steps towards a more sustainable future can help build trust and loyalty, creating a sense that we’re all in this together.

Spoon Guru’s Product Discovery Solution includes Sustainability TAGs® alongside those for health and diet. Our Health+ Solution is more comprehensive still, and includes a platform designed with behavioural science in mind to help shoppers achieve their health and sustainability goals over time.


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Sarah Crawley