How to align your environmental and sustainability goals with modern consumer preferences – vegconomist – Advice Eating

This article is part four of the Vegconomist X ProVeg International New Food Hub series of articles aimed at making actionable insights into the plant-based space more accessible.


With both consumers and businesses increasingly aware of the urgent need for more sustainable retail, it’s time to align your sustainability goals. Luckily, there’s a single solution that’s convenient, popular, and scalable that can lead you to lasting success: switching to plant-based products. This will help counteract deforestation caused by livestock, cut food-related emissions in half and help you achieve your net-zero goals.

Vegetable is a win-win situation

The 2021 EU-wide Smart Protein survey, led by ProVeg International, found that 62% of European consumers want their food to be environmentally and climate friendly. Currently, however, most consumers choose herbal products mainly for health reasons. Here’s an opportunity for brands and retailers to help consumers achieve two goals at once, as a plant-based diet is generally both healthier and more sustainable than a conventional diet. Win. But plant-based foods often come at a high price. So how flexible is consumer spending when it comes to sustainability?

ProVeg International’s new white paper, Sustainable Retail Strategies – How to Align Your Environmental and Sustainability Goals with Modern Consumer Preferences, addresses this question and offers you the top seven ways retailers can support consumers by making plant-rich diets affordable and accessible.

Around 40% of consumers in Portugal, Spain and Germany are willing to pay a premium of 10% or more for sustainable products.

One way ProVeg International proposes to overcome the price barrier is to offer consumers a wide range of high-quality plant-based products. Around 40% of consumers in Portugal, Spain and Germany are willing to pay a premium of 10% or more for sustainable products.

Sustainability must never come at the expense of taste

Although consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious, they are still very price sensitive. While the majority are only willing to pay 5-10% more for sustainable products, the price difference between sustainable and non-sustainable products is often much larger. Retailers need to engage consumers with the primary motivators of price and taste to receptive them to the benefits of health and sustainability.

“Sustainability must never come at the expense of taste,” explains Cedric Verstraeten, Global Director of Value Creation at AB InBev. “Flavour and cost come first,” he adds, confirming what the data shows.

importance of diversity

So if sustainability is behind other consumer motivations, how can retailers meet these interconnected needs? The solution is simple: variety.

A wide range of plant-based alternatives is essential for a number of reasons. First, it offers a variety of tastes. Second, it offers a wider range of health benefits. And third, and equally important, it leverages an important psychological phenomenon called the availability heuristic, which reflects our tendency to use information that springs to mind quickly and easily when making decisions.

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©ProVeg International

according to dr Bianchi of the Behavioral Insights Team, there are three other interventions retailers can take to support sustainable consumption for the benefit of all:

  • Positioning (in store): Placing plant-based options at the point-of-sale will give more prominence to sustainable options.
  • Swap (online): Make sure your online store’s algorithms always recommend herbal alternatives or complementary products.
  • Labels: Use simple labels to help customers identify stores and products that are healthier and more sustainable.

Instead of expecting your consumers to climb a mental mountain every time they go shopping while seriously trying to find the most sustainable option, retailers can have one enormously A hit.

Want to learn more about how retailers can effectively encourage plant-based shopping among price-conscious consumers? Check out ProVeg International’s comprehensive new white paper, Sustainable Retail Strategies – How to Align Your Environmental and Sustainability Goals with Modern Consumer Preferences and learn how to:

  • Prefer more plant-based meat alternatives
  • Educate and empower consumers
  • Leverage your supply chain and product recipes
  • Empower your people to accelerate sustainability
  • Make plant-based choices easier for flexitarians
  • Educate your consumers about their impact on emissions
  • Design your products with circular economy principles in mind

Click here to learn more and accelerate your organization’s transition to your net zero goals.

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