How can food companies make consumer diets more sustainable?

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Sustainability expert and PhD. As a researcher working on his partnership with one of the UK’s largest food retailers, I am fascinated by one particular question of his.we make 200+ dietary decisions per daywhich is largely unconscious, there are many opportunities to intervene and help people make better choices.

Using marketing to normalize sustainable diets and inspire and support consumers to make better choices for themselves and the planet is an important vehicle for change. My research investigated the effectiveness of marketing campaigns for food retailers in the UK. Findings from two campaigns, each with a different approach to influencing consumer diets, can reveal how these marketing investments play out.

Nature is free falling, The current food system is one of the major factors. A transition to a more sustainable food system requires improvements in food production, food loss and waste, and food consumption. A transition to a more sustainable diet is essential, especially in high-income countries.

One thing food companies can do to drive the shift to more sustainable diets is to rebalance what consumers put in their baskets and plates. This includes legumes (such as chickpeas and lentils), legumes, vegetables and whole grains.

Offer better choices in stores

A major UK retailer has launched a nationwide in-store ‘vegetarian’ campaign across all its stores. The purpose of this campaign was to move plant-based products to prime locations in stores (at eye level and aisle ends) and introduce price promotions and loyalty card incentives to increase plant-based product accessibility, It was to increase affordability, visibility. His colorful point-of-sale materials highlight the benefits of eating more plant-based foods, with recipes at the end of the shelf next to the products advertised to make it easy for consumers to understand how to use them. A card was displayed. Products advertised included canned legumes and whole-grain pasta and rice, as well as meat and dairy alternatives.

My role was to independently assess the performance of the campaign. Sales of the advertised product showed he increased 58% during the campaign and remained 15% higher than baseline three months after the campaign ended.

The campaign saw an increase in plant-based sales, but no significant change in meat sales. This indicates that a more directly targeted approach to meat products (such as reducing pack size and shelf space) is needed to enable healthier and more sustainable diets. increase. It’s not just about encouraging consumers to buy more.

Consumer engagement on sustainable diets

The second retailer I worked with, Marks & Spencer (M&S), took a different approach.Partnering with environmental groups commotion,They are digital campaign Proven behavior change model.

The campaign targeted three sustainable eating waste; scratch cooking — more cooking from scratch linked to a healthier diet. It aimed to address barriers to change, improve attitudes and knowledge, and create long-term behavioral change across these three areas.

Deeper engagement with consumers to understand their motivations and barriers to change should be a key aspect of campaign design.

The campaign involved 100 households, including retirees, families with children and young couples. What they all had in common was a desire to be more sustainable and an openness to eating in different ways for their health, their families and the planet. Marks & Spencer and Hubbub provided attendees with a variety of tools including recipes, tips and hacks, live cooking, educational content, meal planners, and more. They were also given the products they needed to participate in Cookalong, removing the risk factor often cited as a barrier to trying new foods. We shared pictures of our meals and asked each other questions. This was important in creating a community and providing group support.

After the campaign, households reported eat less meat (from 5-6 times a week to 3-4 times a week), more plant protein and vegetables (number of households eating 5 servings of vegetables a day increased from 40% to 68%) resulting in less food wastage. reduced (households report “never waste”). He increased from 9% to 49%) and more from scratch (73% of households increased from scratch). Knowledge of sustainable diets, willingness to buy plant-based meat alternatives, and increased confidence in cooking. These effects lasted for 3 months after the campaign ended, during which time meat consumption was reduced to 1-2 times a week. This demonstrates the importance of supporting consumers in the process of changing their diet to effect long-term change.

looking to the future

While these insights are in some ways specific to the UK (e.g. the need to focus on cooking skills training may be less important in other markets), these two campaigns demonstrate that food companies It gives you some key insights no matter where you are based.

[Interested in learning how we can transform food systems to equitably and efficiently feed a more populous planet while conserving and regenerating the natural world? Check out the VERGE 22 Food Program, taking place in San Jose, CA, Oct. 25-28.]

First, it can lead to increased sales by making products easier for consumers to find, find, and more affordable. However, this increase in plant-based needs must be matched by a decline in meat and dairy in order to enable a more sustainable consumer diet. Instead of increasing sales on a base, strategies and marketing campaigns should be designed with the aim of rebalancing baskets and plates and increasing plant-based share in baskets or menus.

Second, engaging more deeply with consumers to understand their motivations and barriers to change should be a key aspect of campaign design. Use this information to create long-term behavior change and improve brand awareness by designing targeted engagement campaigns that build skills, address knowledge gaps, and boost confidence. I can. However, for such engagement campaigns to work, consumers need to be open to change. A subconscious design approach may work well for more resistant customers.

When I started working with food companies, sustainable eating was a difficult topic to grab attention.In the last few years in the UK both Tesco When Sainsbury’s started talking to consumers about the benefits of consuming more vegetables and plant-based proteins.

Ultimately, efforts to change consumer behavior must be accompanied by more strategic and fundamental changes. Food companies must aggressively shift their product portfolios and menus to focus on sustainably sourced plants and “less is more” meat. Policy makers must adapt laws and regulations to create an enabling environment for businesses, farmers and consumers. But we all have a role to play in creating a positive food culture centered around nutritious, sustainable and delicious food. Supporting things is a great place to start.

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