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Consumers demand sustainable food

24 January 2020

A recent report has identified that 75% of UK shoppers want supermarkets to only stock food from sustainable and ethical sources, while 72% of UK shoppers also expect their supermarket, shop or restaurant to know the precise ingredients of all food products sold. 

The report ‘UK Food Trends: A Snapshot in Time’ which has been published by Lloyds Register, highlights the increasing role of ethical and sustainable drivers in food purchasing decisions.

The report also demonstrates that consumers are increasingly concerned about food safety with one in every three consumers confirming their concerns have increased in the last year, while one-in-five has changed brands following reports of a food safety incident or product recall. The biggest safety concern (circa 60%) relates to bacterial food contamination, such as salmonella or listeria.

However, the research also reveals the often contradictory nature of today’s consumer. While people want ethical and sustainable food, price is still a huge driver, with 40% of consumers saying cost is the single biggest incentive behind purchasing decisions.

The report shows that high-profile food scares have entered into the consciousness of food shoppers and are impacting purchasing decisions,” said Stuart Kelly, head of commercial, customised assurance at Lloyds Register. “The findings also suggest that there is a deep suspicion amongst UK consumers about the claims made for many organic and vegan products. In fact, one in five UK consumers declared themselves to be ‘not confident at all’ or ‘very suspicious’ about claims that vegan products do not contain meat. What’s more, one quarter of all consumers (26.9%) say they are ‘not confident at all’ that food products labelled as organic are grown or reared using organic farming methods.

“Those working in the food supply chain have long suspected that their businesses are vulnerable to the changing purchasing motivations of consumers who are exerting an increasing influence on procurement, ingredient and packaging decisions. What this report shows is that this influence is often tinged with suspicion, increasingly demanding and, at times, contradictory.”

A copy of the UK Food Safety Report can be downloaded at

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