Even as companies continue to roll out new "sustainable" food and beverage products in response to consumer demand, many people remain unaware of -- or vague about the meaning of -- eco benefit claims or labeling such as "Fair Trade" and even "reduced carbon/emissions," according to a Mintel survey of 2,000 adults with Internet access.
Mintel, which has tracked more than 13,000 sustainable food/beverage product launches since 2005 through its Global New Products Database, found that 84% of people surveyed say that they regularly buy "green" or sustainable foods and beverages.
But while package claims such as "recyclable," "eco-friendly" and "environmentally friendly" were found to be fairly well known to consumers, about one-third said they had never even heard of "reduced carbon footprint/emissions" claims (32%) or Fair Trade certification (34%).
Forty percent said they had never heard of the less common "solar/wind energy" claim, and the 37% who were familiar with it said they would never purchase a product featuring that claim.
Even people who may have heard of various sustainability claims or statements may "be hard-pressed to define them," observed Mintel senior analyst David Browne.
Asked why they buy these products, 45% of sustainable food/beverage consumers cited a perceived belief that these products offer superior quality, 43% cited concerns about environmental and human welfare issues, and 42% cited concerns about food safety.
"These reasons vary in importance across different demographics," notes Browne. "What's most important to young adults may not be the primary deciding factor for affluent consumers."
In shaping their sustainability claims, marketers should take these demographic variations into account, while also recognizing the nearly universal concern with health, welfare and safety, he advises.