Survey: Price Outweighs Sustainability

June 3, 2022
Concern by American consumers about sustainability in their food choices are being counterbalanced by inflation, according to a new study.

Concern by American consumers about sustainability in their food choices are being counterbalanced by inflation, according to a new study.

An online survey of 1,005 adult Americans for the International Food Information Center gauged attitudes and influences on food & beverage purchases. The survey found that some progress is being made on attitudes toward sustainability, it is being held back by increasing food prices.

In this year’s survey, 39% said environmental sustainability has an impact on their decisions to buy certain foods and beverages, up from 27% in 2019. Social sustainability, defined as concern for the conditions of those involved with production of a given food, was important to 45%.

However, faced with a hypothetical choice between an item that costs $3 and another, for $5, that was produced in a way fair to workers, respondents chose the less expensive item by 61% to 39%.

Inflation undoubtedly contributes to this situation. It’s been seen on the shelves by 83% of consumers; 57% of them said they’ve had to pay more for the same item, and 29% said it made them buy less of something than they otherwise would have.

“All of this mirrors a consistent trend the Food and Health Survey has tracked for over a decade: when it comes to our food purchasing priorities, taste and price remain paramount while environmental sustainability trails far behind,” the report says.

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