Grocery Shopping and Sustainability

In the US, 72 percent of contemporary consumers consider sustainability factors like local sourcing and recyclable packaging when they buy groceries, compared to 51 percent of conventional consumers. Also, millennials are most likely to purchase eco-friendly and sustainability-marketed consumer-packaged goods (CPG) products even during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business study. These statistics/hard data and others are detailed below.

  • As per Tastewise, a food intelligence start-up, interest in sustainable food went up in the United States in recent years. About 64 percent of US households buy sustainable products, according to Nielsen. Also, 23 percent more consumers in the United States prioritized sustainable food choices in 2020 than in 2019.
  • A study by IBM released in early 2020 showed that “over 70 percent of consumers would pay a premium of 35 percent for brands that they see as environmentally responsible.”
  • According to FMI, consumers could be spending $100 Billion a year on online grocery by 2022, equal to every US household spending $850 online for food and beverage per year. Also, the sustainable product market could total $150 billion in the US by 2021. 
  • An online survey of 1,500 people aged between 18 and 71 in the US in 2017 found that 83 percent of the respondents revealed that they were familiar with the term sustainability, while 22 percent stated that they had increased their sustainable purchasing in the previous 12 months.
Sustainable product sales in the US
  • A CGS survey of more than 1,000 Americans aged between 18 and 65 on how sustainable products and business practices are driving their buying preferences found that almost “70 percent of the respondents stated that sustainability is somewhat important to them when making a purchase and 47 percent would pay more for a sustainable product.”
  • The CGS survey also showed that Gen Z considers ethical business/manufacturing as one of its top factors when purchasing, and over 50 percent of Gen Z would pay more for a sustainable product, higher than the 47 percent expressed by the general population.

Sustainability Sells

  • An Earth Day 2019 A.T. Kearney study of 1,000 US consumers’ views on the environment found that over 70 percent of the respondents considered their impact on the environment while grocery shopping.
  • The Kearney survey points out that consumers consider some aspects of convenience as secondary to sustainability when it comes to grocery shopping. In the study, “85 percent more respondents in 2020 expressed a commitment to turn down plastic utensils with food orders in the following 12 months. Also, the likelihood that consumers would purchase in bulk to save on individual packaging went up 164 percent from a year earlier.”
  • According to a Deloitte fresh food consumer survey 2020 that studied 2,000 adults aged between 18 to 70 in the US, 72 percent of contemporary consumers (who tend to be younger families, urban dwellers, more well-off, and more ethnically diverse) stated that they actively consider sustainability factors like local sourcing, water neutrality, and recyclable packaging when they are buying groceries, compared to 51 percent of conventional consumers (who tend to be older, with low income, and more rural).
  • The Power of Seafood report detailing what grocery shoppers want from seafood found that just 22% of shoppers said sustainability is important when purchasing seafood.
  • Also, 66 percent of contemporary consumers in the Deloitte study look for non-genetically modified organisms (non-GMO) labeling on the grocery foods they purchase, compared to 46 percent of conventional consumers.
  • According to research by NYU Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business on US consumers’ actual purchasing of CPG, “50 percent of CPG growth from 2013 to 2018 came from sustainability-marketed products. Also, products that had a sustainability claim on-pack accounted for 16.6 percent of the market in 2018, up from 14.3 percent in 2013. In addition, products marketed as sustainable grew 5.6 times faster than those that were not. In more than 90 percent of the CPG categories, sustainability-marketed products grew faster than their conventional counterparts.”
  • The NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business study also found that millennials were most likely to buy eco-friendly and sustainability-marketed CPG products even during the Covid-19 pandemic. FoodNavigator USA also states that millennial and gen z grocery shoppers are more likely than boomers to prioritize recycling and sustainability practices.
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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