Consumers are now actively considering the environment alongside their health when buying food, according to Tetra Pak's Index 2023. These environmentally conscious consumers, labelled 'Climatarians', are willing to alter their eating habits to protect the planet.
The market for healthy foods is already well established, as consumers actively seek products that will positively impact their physical well-being. But a significant majority now take a more holistic view: 70 percent say that healthy products should not harm the environment. In comparison, another 54 percent are willing to take responsibility for the planet and change their diet to contribute to a better world.
This dual focus is reflected in the rising number of consumers consciously reducing the amount of meat they eat, known as 'flexitarians', with nearly half of all consumers saying they are reducing meat intake or excluding meat altogether. Based on a survey conducted in ten countries worldwide by global market research firm IPSOS, the Tetra Pak Index found that this trend towards meat reduction is a global phenomenon. Fifty-six percent of respondents cite health reasons for adopting a flexitarian, pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan diet, but over a third (36 percent) specifically cite the environment as their primary motivator.
The research also reveals that convenience is no longer king. In a marked shift in long-prevailing attitudes, 70 percent would sacrifice convenience for healthier products. The drive for health is also unaffected by the cost-of-living crisis, with only 17 percent willing to sacrifice food and drinks with health benefits in the current economic climate.
The 'Climatarian' trend is expected to grow as the effects of climate change are felt more widely; consumers expect food manufacturers to deliver healthy and sustainable products.
Adolfo Orive, President and CEO at Tetra Pak, said the findings of this year's Index reflect the direction Tetra Pak has taken in the last few years to decarbonise the food industry and make food systems more resilient and sustainable.
"In many parts of the world, people rely on products such as milk and juices for their daily nutrition, so it is critical to optimise their value chain with innovations in sourcing, packaging, processing and distribution, which is where we have been playing an active role together with our customers and suppliers," said Orive.
Orive continued that, in addition, considering that the world will need 60 percent more food by 2050, Tetra Pak is complementing these efforts through technologies that can help explore new sources of nutrition. This ranges from new plant-based sources to alternative proteins produced with biomass and precision fermentation. Both these areas are critical to contribute towards food system sustainability.
Breakthrough new food innovations can play a strong supporting role in delivering products that are not only tasty but also resource-efficient. The good news is that consumers are ready to embrace innovations that improve how we live and eat, with 62 percent believing that technology has a role to play in a more sustainable future. At the same time, some consumers are concerned that such innovations may not be as natural as fresh, unprocessed food - so finding the right balance will be key.
"This area is developing quite rapidly, and it is difficult to predict when and to what extent it will succeed, but it is only through continued efforts and leveraging collaboration to explore every potential opportunity that we will find solutions to the current food system challenges."