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Conscious Consumption's Impact on Food and Nutrition

March 2021

Consumers are increasingly purchasing with purpose, demanding transparency in food sourcing as they question the environmental impact of eating. As a result, food manufacturers are increasingly aiming to deliver positive social or environmental impacts alongside the goal of profitable growth. This briefing assesses key ethical concerns that consumers hold and how these are expected to impact companies' strategies across regions.

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Key Findings

Conscious consumption focuses on three key pillars

Animal welfare, social and environmental concerns have been rising over the years for consumers as a high quantity of information regarding the food industry supply chain is now easily and constantly accessible. Global players’ competition from private label and small/local companies is rising and conscious values are a real asset for businesses to display, especially in regions where sustainability and community are big priorities.

Consumers’ ethical actions increased as a result of the pandemic

In the food industry, companies now, more than ever, need to react to this new type of demand and must ensure that their ethical values are aligned with ongoing consumers’ concerns. With COVID-19, community spirit has been growing and many people went out of their way to help each other. Businesses’ social actions have become more important as consumers became more likely to want to see that food companies were with them in their efforts.

Ethical claims regulation is growing as usage and types are developing across regions

Regulations around food claims have been more and more monitored by governments. Front-of-packaging labels need to be both specific and proven to be accepted by local or regional commissions. Organic remains the leading ethical claim around the world. In Western Europe and North America, more than 10% of the packaged food available is organic. In addition, supply chain control is very important; for example, in chocolate, fair trade, slavery free or UTZ claims are rising.

Companies' ethical actions and investments are rising to stay competitive

Packaged food multinationals are often responsible in the production of high volume of wastes and are accused of not having full control over the welfare of the people working on their supply chain. However, investments to find alternatives to polluting ingredients and non-recyclable packaging are growing and should allow them to fulfil their engagements regarding sustainability. For example, with the new development of its paper-based bottle, Coca-Cola could reach its objective to produce zero waste by 2030.



Conscious Consumption Scope

Conscious consumption, a growing concern for millennials
Consumers are expecting involvement from companies in multiple fields
Social concerns are rising with COVID-19
Environmental concerns force adaptation
Animal welfare spurs alternatives success

Impact on Ethical Claims

Sustainable sourcing opens up opportunities
Scrutiny around environmentally-friendly claims rises
Sustainable packaging challenged by COVID-19
Free range, a key claim for poultry-based products

Conscious Consumption and Companies’ Strategies

Research and development grows in traditional meat alternatives
Sustainable cocoa sourcing, a real challenge for confectionery players
Ingredients for conscious food consumption
Despite COVID-19, plastic reduction remains a priority
Packaging reduction in evidence across markets


Willingness to pay more for ethical food differs depending on region…
…as does the impact of conscious consumption on food
Product Claims and Positioning methodology

For further insight please contact

Giuseppe Parlato Research Analyst, Food and Nutrition giuseppe.parlato@euromonitor.com www.linkedin.com/in/grparlato


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