Health and sustainability are the criteria for choosing when we shop

In post-Covid, health and sustainability have become the priorities in the food sector

Health and sustainability are increasingly determining drivers in the purchasing decisions of food products by Italian and European consumers, with the importance of these factors which has increased since the beginning of the pandemic. This is the picture provided by the new report by Deloitte The Conscious Consumer, an analysis that collects the opinion of over 17,000 consumers in 15 European countries: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal , Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

Health (86%) and sustainability (70%) are increasingly strategic choice criteria in the nutrition of European and Italian consumers, a trend that has strengthened over the last 12 months. Italian consumers say they are more interested in the influence that food can have on their health (69%) and have changed their purchasing behavior in light of the new priorities: more vegetables (64%) and less meat (51%) ), preferring local products (64%). Added to this is the increase in the preparation of meals at home (54%) and the savings in packaging, used for example in delivery (47%).

“In the space of a year, Italian consumers have become more interested in the influence that nutrition can have on health. Spending is increasingly guided by consumer values: proof of this is the orientation towards healthy food, from the territory and prepared at home, in an attempt to reduce waste “, comments Eugenio Puddu, Consumer Products Sector Leader of Deloitte Italy.

Price remains a key factor in purchasing decisions

If sustainability and above all health become the new determining drivers in food purchase choices, we must not forget the price factor (70%). While the weight of each factor driving spending decisions is important, health is the main driver when consumers have to choose between the three. In fact, 80% of Italian consumers prefer it to price and 91% to sustainability.

Although 61% of consumers declare that price affects them more than sustainability, 78% of Italian respondents say they are willing to pay at least 5% more for sustainable food, but also for local food (79%), organic and fair trade (both 76%).

The choice of products that best reflect the needs of consumers also includes information on health and well-being in the food sector. In obtaining information, Italian consumers rely above all on sector experts and the web, followed by structures and health personnel.

Consumers expect an active role from supermarkets

While providing direct access to food, supermarkets are considered as a point of reference by only 11% of Italians, while 17% of the interviewees are considered reliable sources. Furthermore, Italian consumers expect supermarkets to play a more active role in guiding healthy and sustainable choices, especially through food information and education (66%), but also by excluding products that are not good for health from assortment (51%).

“Consumers expect concrete actions from supermarkets, as well as from institutions. Supermarkets should play a more active role in driving healthy and sustainable choices. Their commitment should also go through the choice of products on the shelf. In Italy, nearly seven out of ten consumers think that environmental impact characteristics such as information on unhealthiness should be clearly marked on the packaging. Furthermore, 51% of Italian consumers agree with the exclusion of unhealthy products from supermarket assortments. ” concludes Enrico Cosio, Retail, Wholesale & Distribution Sector Leader of Deloitte Italia.