Kerry's Eat. Drink. Think event saw thought leaders like sustainable chefs and influencers Thomasina Miers, Arthur Potts-Dawson and Max La Manna taking the podium, along with execs from Brakes, Max Burger, The Sustainable Restaurant Association, Nesta and Nutritics, among others.
At the event held in London, UK, on 8 September, Kerry also unpacked results from pan-European research that found 71% of consumers believe sustainability is an important consideration in choosing what outlets to support when eating out of home (OOH), including bakeries.
However, the research also found a significant majority – 81% – believe these outlets should be doing more to communicate what they are doing to protect people, the planet and society.
Kerry’s proprietary research not only examined the current reach of sustainable nutrition with consumers, but also actionable recommendations on how operators can integrate sustainability, indulgence and health into a winning proposition. And with 55% of consumers claiming to be eating more sustainably since the COVID-19 pandemic, foodservice has a central role to play in helping consumers make more informed choices.
“To truly accelerate the creation of a world of sustainable nutrition, we need to make the business growth agenda and sustainability one conversation,” said Daniel Sjorgren, VP of Foodservice at Kerry.
“Our industry needs to act now and provide healthier and more sustainable food and beverage offering, that deliver on taste expectations of consumers and ultimately are better for the planet and society. People are integrating sustainability into their everyday choices and becoming significantly more proactive in living a more sustainable life.
“As a result, there are great opportunities for foodservice operators to respond to these new needs and expectations and grow their businesses successfully with a more sustainable model.”
For the first time, the majority of consumers are clearly indicating strong sustainability preferences and displaying a sense of frustration around the difficulty in making more sustainable choices. 65% report they are looking for sustainable options made easy, whether through more info or a greater range of options.
Taste remains – as always – the most important factor in OOH consumption. However, many still believe this is being compromised when choosing a more sustainable option, showing a big opportunity for foodservice.
59% of consumers believe sustainably-sourced treats are healthier for you. Added to that, those produced locally or in season are often considered to be higher in quality and greater in nutritional benefits. Nutritional claims are more important to the consumer than ever before, especially claims with low/reduced sugar content. Explicitly linking sustainability to healthier options will drive demand.
Drawing on behavioural science, a menu experiment was created to demonstrate that price and visual nudges like CO2 emissions or calorie content impact consumer choice. As such, operators have an opportunity to drive sustainable choices through low-cost menu design interventions and message framing.
There is a strong belief that acting sustainably comes at a cost, but 51% of consumers are happy to pay more for sustainable food and drinks. However, where there is a sustainability premium, consumers need a greater understanding of why it exists and the cost differential must be defendable and is clearly communicated.
“Consumers want to see more sustainable choices on menus – that is what they are telling us,” added Sjogren.
“This summit and research insights helps us and our customers to better evolve the sustainable offerings and communications to meet consumers’ growing expectations without compromising on taste and nutrition.”
“I believe that our sustainability ambitions can be achieved if we embrace a more collaborative approach throughout the value chain of bringing food and beverages solutions to the consumers. At Kerry, we are excited to partner with customers to bring this to life.”
Kerry’s research was conducted in earlier this year among a representative sample of foodservice consumers aged 18-55 in six key markets, namely, the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Sweden and Poland.