NEWS1 August 2022

UK consumers more favourable towards sustainable groceries

FMCG News Retail Sustainability Trends UK Wellbeing

UK – Some 57% of UK consumers believe that companies should be taxed heavily if they are producing or promoting unhealthy choices, and 60% of UK households say it is important to buy sustainably produced groceries, data from NielsenIQ shows.

Dispensers for cereals, nuts and grains in sustainable plastic-free grocery store

NielsenIQ reveals that 54% of UK consumers pay attention to labelling/food nutritional values when grocery shopping, with sugar ( 45%), fat ( 41%) and salt ( 31%) content having the biggest impact on purchase decisions.

The three most important concerns about grocery products for UK shoppers are reducing food waste ( 45%), buying local/British ( 36%) and minimal/no packaging ( 26%).  

Although consumers expressed a willingness to switch to sustainable product packaging, shopping behaviour did not always reflect this. 

Recent data from NielsenIQ for the week ending 4th June shows that value sales for bagged salad rose +2.7% versus the same period the previous year, while total salad declined by -4.8%. This is also the case for prepared fruit (+15.6%), compared with total fruit (-3.9%).

Consumer attitudes towards reducing meat consumption is also one of the symbols of the broader ‘better for the planet, better for the people’ consciousness. In a NielsenIQ survey conducted in November 2021, 2.7 million households in the UK had a vegan or vegetarian, while 10.5 million households said they were replacing meat-based meals with vegan or vegetarian alternatives at least once a week.

Asked why they had switched to vegan or vegetarian options, 40% stated it was better for their health and 31% said it was better for the planet.

However, a challenge for shoppers is combining this desire for less meat consumption with managing budgets. NielsenIQ data shows that meat alternative mince is 26% more expensive per kilo than beef mince. With this in mind, an average basket spend for meat costs £40.99, rising to £43.60 for meat-free alternatives. 

Commenting on the findings, Katrina Bishop, UK thought leadership activation manager at NielsenIQ, said: “With 49% of households focusing on value for money when buying new food and drink products, UK shoppers find themselves in a bit of a fix as they struggle to balance tight budgets with their health and sustainability values.

“We may see a slight shift in priorities from shoppers as they seek to find alternative ways to balance this. For example, cutting back on grocery spending and on meat may result in cooking with fresh vegetables rather than seeking out meat alternatives.”