MRO Magazine

EAT-GlobeScan global consumer research on healthy and sustainable food systems

October 2, 2021 | By Maryam Farag

Half of people worldwide (53 per cent) find buying healthy and sustainable food easy according to a new global consumer research survey conducted by GlobeScan, an insights and strategy consultancy, and EAT, the science-based non-profit for global food system transformation.

However, the biggest obstacles for those who find it difficult to buy healthy and sustainable food is affordability (48 per cent) and availability (36 per cent), with a quarter of people saying that they don’t know what healthy and sustainable food is.

The findings featured in this new report, Grains of Truth, look at the opinions of over 30,000 consumers in 31 markets around the world about their definition of good, healthy, and sustainable food.

While many people struggle with understanding what healthy and sustainable food is, there is also an understanding that the two terms have different meanings. The most popular descriptions of healthy food are nutritious (47 per cent), organic (47 per cent), and unprocessed/whole (44 per cent). For sustainable food, the top three descriptions are good for the environment (51 per cent), organic (42 per cent), and locally grown (34 per cent).


Different generations have similar views on sustainable food, but there are differences when it comes to healthy food. Gen Z are most likely to describe healthy food as tasty and nutritious, while Baby Boomers associate it with unprocessed/whole and locally grown food.

When considering some of the issues of the food system, the two biggest concerns are use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers (81 per cent) and single-use plastic waste from food packaging (78 per cent). These are closely followed by hunger and obesity, with 76 per cent of people saying that they are concerned about both issues. These concerns are supported by the fact that one in 11 people are chronically hungry and that a third of the world’s population is overweight. The issue that people are least concerned about is the transportation of food.

Nearly half of consumers (46 per cent) believe that the responsibility to make positive change to create a more healthy and sustainable food system lies with national governments. Over a third (37%) think food and beverage companies are best placed to achieve this, while 23 percent see people like themselves being able to influence positive change, and one in eight (15%) see young people as powerful agents of change.

“This timely research provides a roadmap for consumer expectations for a sustainable food system. Demonstrating environmental integrity is a definer of sustainable food for people around the world, and there are very high levels of concern for a range of issues affecting the food system, from pesticide use to plastics, to obesity, to impacts on nature. In addition, consumers hold government and business especially responsible for delivering a sustainable food system, making the UN Food Systems Summit a critical opportunity to demonstrate progress to people across the world.” said Chris Coulter, CEO, GlobeScan.



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