European consumers rank taste, safety, and cost ahead of environmental issues when it comes to sustainability of their food. This is the main finding of a European Commission Special Eurobarometer survey of 27,237 consumers across the 27 member states, which was published on 18 December 2020.
The report Making our food fit for the future – Citizens’ expectations is based on interviews with consumers carried out in August and September following the earlier publication of the Commission’s green deal strategies.
Despite the Green Deal Farm to Fork’s aspirations, the survey shows that only 15% of consumers considered a product’s “environmental and climate impact,” and 16% were concerned about whether a food is “minimally processed” or if products met their personal “ethics and beliefs” such as animal welfare concerns.
The survey shows that the Commission’s ambition to set global sustainability standards in line with its Farm to Fork strategy has the backing of 87% of respondents who stated that the EU should be more proactive in promoting food sustainability worldwide. And 40% also wanted to be as confident in imported food as they were about EU-produced food.
Other key findings include:
- Sustainable food and diets are primarily associated with nutrition and health.
- The majority of Europeans say they eat a healthy and sustainable diet most of the time; however, responses vary greatly by country.
- Affordability and availability of healthy, sustainable choices and clear information on food labelling are the most likely factors to help Europeans adopt a sustainable diet.
- Food producers and manufacturers are seen as key actors in making the food system sustainable, above public authorities.
- Almost all Europeans call on the public and private sectors to improve access to sustainable food and information on food sustainability on food labels.
- More than eight in ten (83%) Europeans agree that regulations should force food producers and other food business operators to meet more stringent sustainability standards.
The full survey can be accessed here.