A scorecard approach evaluating survey results, macro environment and claim usage across 40 markets to help companies prioritise where to emphasise sustainability and to which target group. Analysis of brand level claim usage identifies the key selling points of niche key challengers in growth markets and focuses on packaged food multinationals.
Health claims are the most important in foods, but this leaves a white space to explore in terms of sustainability communication. Organic is the leading ethical claim in packaged food by merit of its connection to health, but building and profiting from a sustainability platform is a holistic approach rather than any one single label. Outside of the well-established organic label, ethical labels is the fastest growing claim group in terms of digital share of shelf.
Survey results show that consumers in many developing and emerging markets are keen to live sustainably, but the gap in the share of sustainably labelled products is large. Local food companies with an ethical positioning often use organic labelling or/and source locally. Of course, premium pricing is a barrier to reaching a wider target group, and ethical approaches that do not require a premium pricing appear to provide the greatest opportunities looking ahead.
Sweden is at the top of the index of market potential for sustainable claims, yet the digital share of shelf for sustainable claims decreased here in 2020, with the biggest loss seen in organic. At the same time, the WWF reports that sales of sustainably labelled products are growing slower than the market. Polarbröd, a Swedish sustainability leader in foods, appears to see its commitments in sustainability as an employer branding initiative rather than a consumer-centric priority.
Leading food companies are growing their share of assortment with sustainable claims and keep investing in sustainability commitments across the supply chain, organisation and employees. Many of these approaches are cost-effective and can bring sustainability claims outside of the premium assortment. Given their global reach, they have an opportunity to fill the gap in developing markets.
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