United vs. Divided: Buying sustainably

Rachel Barrett, Director

Consumer expectations and demands when it comes to meaningful action on environmental and climate challenges continue to grow.

According to recent research conducted by FleishmanHillard UK, one in five people (20%) regard climate change as a top priority when it comes to purchasing food and drink products.

However, more than half of us (53%) also consider that the industry is falling short when it comes to tackling this challenge.

This was particularly felt across the LGBTQ+ community with nearly half (49%) saying the industry could do more and also in Scotland where more than four in ten (45%) say they expect more from the industry.

It’s also an issue that cuts across the socio-economic divide with half (50%) of low socio-economic households saying sustainability is their main environmental driver when it comes to purchasing decisions.

The gap between what business is doing and communicating versus what consumers are hearing and talking about raises some urgent challenges for the sector.

2021 is the year of climate action with the UK Government hosting both the G7 and COP26 and the UN World Food Systems Summit and UN Biodiversity Conference taking place. Within this context it is critical that manufacturers, producers and retailers focus on:

  • Consistently engaging with consumers and stakeholders. Repetition is retention and ever more so in a crowded marketplace. Announcing a new sustainability commitment? Great, don’t just think of it as a single launch moment, instead look to leverage it across the year.
  • Understanding there isn’t a one size fits all approach to tackling climate change and consumers’ levels of engagement will vary. How can you inform, engage and activate your environmentally engaged audience?
  • Clearly defining where you stand on the spectrum. Do consumers (and therefore stakeholders) think a business is falling short because of a lack of action or because of a growing tide of expectation?
  • Going beyond table stakes measures. With consumers and stakeholders’ expectations on the rise, how can you show ambition, drive and authentically demonstrate how you are supporting the next generation?


Our food and beverage and COP26 specialists can help you tackle these issues. For further information, get in touch.

Contact us