Research by Longitude, a Financial Times Company, commissioned by Corteva Agriscience, reveals that consumers and farmers see sustainability as a priority and agree that new plant-breeding technologies can help protect the environment. However, sustainability is currently not rewarded by the market, leaving most farmers who have adopted sustainable practices out of pocket.
Longitude conducted two separate surveys to inform the research.
It interviewed 2,500 consumers across the UK, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland and Ukraine.
It also surveyed 600 farm owners and managers across the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Romania and Ukraine.
Its top three findings are summarized below:
- Consumers and farmers agree on the importance of sustainability
Three quarters of consumers associate sustainable food with improved health and well-being, with over half saying they are willing to pay 20% more for food that has been produced sustainably. For consumers, sustainable food means limiting the amount of artificial crop protection products used (cited by 51% of survey respondents), followed by reducing waste (48%) and supporting small farmers and community farms (35%).In line with demand, most farmers in Europe are already limiting their use of artificial pest control or have plans to do so in the next two years; this is the sustainability practice that the research suggests is most popular among European farmers.
- Farmers and consumers welcome new plant-breeding technologies
Around two thirds (63%) of Europe’s farmers plan to implement new plant-breeding techniques such as CRISPR over the next five years. They see the main benefit as being able to enhance the nutritional value of crops – or to make crops more resilient to extreme weather.Consumers support this greater use of innovation. More than half say they are likely to buy food produced using new plant-breeding tools. A mere 11% say that they would be opposed.
- Sustainability costs
Most farmers (78%) have adopted sustainable agricultural practices. Some, referred to in the study as sustainability champions, have already implemented three or more such practices. They cite financial pressures as their greatest challenge. Indeed, 69% say that applying sustainable agricultural practices requires them to invest more money, compared with 24% of other farmers.The ‘champions’ are also twice as likely as other farmers to feel that they are unable to pass the cost of increased sustainability down the supply chain.
Commenting on the research, Igor Teslenko, President Europe at Corteva said, “It is great to see that consumers and farmers are ready to embrace new plant-breeding techniques that have exciting potential to grow more nutritious food to enrich the lives of producers and consumers.
“Consumers are prepared to pay more for food produced in a sustainable way, and it is now up to all stakeholders – including industry – to step up and show their support as well.”
For more information and to read the full report visit the Corteva website.