Food, Cittadinanzattiva: “Information helps sustainable nutrition and the fight against waste”

Pilot project presented at Marca to raise awareness of certified nutrition and supply chains

Increase consumer awareness of the issues of sustainable nutrition, the importance of certified supply chains (such as that of sustainable palm oil), food safety and the fight against waste. Cittadinanzattiva, with the unconditional support of the Italian Union for sustainable palm oil, presented the pilot project ‘Sustainable nutrition and fight against waste’ at Marca 2024, the international private label exhibition underway at Bologna Fiere. saw the participation of around 300 consumers and lasted 6 months, from June to December 2023.

According to Cittadinanzattiva, the consumer can play a central role because, if adequately informed, he can exercise his power of choice in an informed manner, helping to orient the market towards more sustainable production models. “Consumers have great power – explains Cinzia Pollio, senior project manager Consumer Policies at Cittadinanzattiva – We like to talk about empowerment, that is, giving the consumer those tools so that he can exercise forms of choice that can be aware and decisive . Unfortunately, especially in the field of commercial communications, there is a lot of confusion regarding brands, information and commercial messages that consumers are often wary of. Around 50% of consumers no longer believe commercial information, they do not feel completely safe. A particularly important thing is that, given the maturity of the consumer which leads him to prefer sustainable and responsible production, in reality he then feels incapable of making a choice that can be 100% conscious because there is an inability to be able to decipher the many pieces of information, sometimes even contradictory, that derive from the world of production”.

The first step of the project involved a training activity for the national association representatives of Cittadinanzattiva on issues related to the sustainable agri-food system and certified supply chains, correct diet and fight against waste, communication to the consumer (fake news, free-from ). The second step instead saw the direct involvement of the community (since it was a pilot, the actions were concentrated on the Puglia region) in a process of consumer engagement on two levels of civic consultation with the administration of a survey, through local associations of the region involved and the organization of a second level of more in-depth consultation.

From the meetings it emerged that the commitment to sustainable nutrition and the fight against waste, in the eyes of the consumer, concerns all the actors of the agri-food system transversally, including the consumer himself who is starting to be aware of his leading role. However, the essential condition for conscious involvement is to respond primarily to a need for information: to be correctly and clearly informed about the characteristics of the products (impact, sustainability of production processes, sustainable supply chains), correct nutrition and anti-waste behaviour. A need for ‘facilitation’, the consumer must be helped in choosing and adopting anti-waste behaviours, to which is added a need for ‘trust’: a solid relationship of trust between consumers and producers, but in general between all the players in the system agri-food, is the basis of a circular and sustainable model that can work virtuously for everyone.

“The Sustainable Palm Oil Union has varied and expanded its mission for years – explained Mauro Fontana, president of the Italian Union for Sustainable Palm Oil – trying to interpret sustainability in both an environmental, ethical and social way. and economic, trying to have a vision in line with the 17 SDGs of the United Nations. From this perspective, to try to inform and train consumers in a more objective way, we supported the Cittadinanzattiva project which, touching on the themes of sustainable nutrition and the fight against waste, aimed to train citizens with an informative approach but based on objective scientific information and studies”.

The project was carried out on an experimental level in Puglia and gave excellent results “so much so that today we want to launch a call to action – continued Fontana – to bring the project on a national scale in 2024 with a network of stakeholders ranging from businesses production, to commercial chains, from universities and research centers to NGOs and institutions. This is to provide both support in terms of an all-round vision of the concept of sustainability and also to give a practical and concrete vision and avoid fake news or misinformation which have also characterized the penalization of various food supply chains, for example that of sustainable palm”.