In a groundbreaking shift, consumers are now considering the environment alongside their personal health when making food purchases.
According to Tetra Pak’s Index 2023, a growing number of environmentally conscious consumers, dubbed “climatarians”, are willing to change their eating habits to protect the planet.
Turns out our hyper-consumption generates a great deal of waste, which poses a major threat to the environment.
While the market for healthy foods has long been established, with consumers actively seeking products that benefit their physical well-being, a significant majority now take a more holistic approach.
A remarkable 70% of consumers believe that healthy products should not harm the environment, and an additional 54% are willing to take responsibility for the planet and modify their diets to contribute to a better world.
Despite facing financial pressures, South African consumers have shown an increasing willingness to pay a premium for healthy and sustainable eating over the past two years.
Data collected by McKinsey & Company in 2021 reveals that 34% of South African millennials prioritise a diet rich in minerals and vitamins, surpassing the national average of 29%.
Furthermore, 18% of Generation Z consumers actively seek vegetarian or vegan options when buying food or beverages, compared to the national average of 13%.
This dual focus on health and the environment is reflected in the growing number of consumers reducing their meat consumption, known as “flexitarians”.
Nearly half of all consumers state that they are reducing their meat intake or eliminating it altogether.
The Tetra Pak Index, based on a survey conducted in 10 countries by global market research firm IPSOS, found that this trend is a global phenomenon.
While 56% of respondents cite health reasons for adopting a flexitarian, pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan diet, over a third (36%) specifically mention the environment as their primary motivator.
Interestingly, convenience is no longer the top priority for consumers. In a significant shift in attitudes, 70% of consumers are willing to sacrifice convenience for healthier products.
The drive for health remains strong despite the current cost-of-living crisis, with only 17% of consumers willing to give up food and drinks with health benefits.
This climatarian trend is expected to continue growing as the effects of climate change become more evident. Consumers now expect food manufacturers to deliver products that are both healthy and sustainable.
Tetra Pak president and CEO Adolfo Orive highlights the significance of decarbonising the food business and strengthening the resilience and sustainability of food systems.
Tetra Pak has been actively engaged in sourcing, packaging, processing and distribution innovations to improve the value chain.
Orive also highlights the need to explore new sources of nutrition, such as plant-based options and alternative proteins produced with biomass and precision fermentation, to contribute to food system sustainability.
Breakthrough food innovations have the potential to support these goals by delivering products that are not only delicious but also resource-efficient.
The good news is that consumers are ready to embrace these innovations, with 62% believing that technology plays a role in creating a more sustainable future.
However, some consumers express concerns about the naturalness of these innovations compared with fresh, unprocessed food. Striking the right balance will be crucial.
The need for continued efforts and collaboration to find solutions to the current challenges in the food system. While the success and extent of these innovations remain uncertain, exploring every potential opportunity will be key to creating a sustainable future, said Orive.
“This area is developing quite rapidly, and it is difficult to predict when and to what extent it will succeed; but it is only through continued efforts and leveraging collaboration to explore every potential opportunity, that we will find solutions to the current food system challenges,” explained Orive.