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Sustainable Shopping on the Rise in 2019

Purchase behavior shows that consumers care about shopping sustainably.

Seventy-three percent of global consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment, according to Nielsen’s Consumers Buy the Change they Wish to See in the World report.

As consumers become more aware of what their putting in and on their bodies, they’re more interested in buying – and sometimes paying more – for products that help the environment at the same time. Nearly half of consumers from around the world said that they were willing to pay more for products that contain all-natural or organic ingredients.

The report found that natural and organic ingredients and certifications serve as the entry level point for almost every market when it comes to sustainability attributes consumers are searching for.

An analysis of retail sales showed that natural products were seeing growth in otherwise declining categories. For example, while the overall shampoo category saw declines of 3.4% over a year long period ending April 2018, natural shampoos are steadily growing at 2.2%.

Consumers know what they are looking for – and not looking for – in a product, and want companies to address specific issues and causes.

In its latest Feed4Thought survey, Cargill found that twice as many respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 in the U.S. and China reported knowing a livestock or seafood farmer compared to those over 55. Younger respondents in every country surveyed were more likely to have visited a farm than those over 55, despite the fact that, globally, there are fewer farmers to know or visit than there were a generation ago.

“I’m thrilled that people are deepening their understanding of agriculture,” said Hilary Maricle, co-owner of Maricle Family Farms in Nebraska. “By creating harmony between farmers and consumers, we can help people appreciate where their food comes from-and how innovative practices are creating healthier, more sustainable farms.”

Generation Y are taking what they learn about farming practices and acting on it. Almost three times as many Gen Y participants said they had changed their eating habits for sustainability reasons in the past year versus older U.S. respondents. Additionally, respondents with children at home were more likely to make values-based changes.

Over 80% of survey respondents said the way an animal is raised is important, and almost half of them were willing to pay more as a result – similar to the results of Nielsen’s survey. Chinese survey participants were the most open to paying a premium based on factors such as animal feed and housing; Americans the least. However, Gen Y respondents in the U.S. and China were more willing than their grandparents to pay for their preferred practices.

Participants from almost every age, gender, income bracket, household size and nationality agreed that the top responsibility of a livestock or seafood farmer was producing safe food for consumers.

Natural Grocers included eating sustainably raised meat and dairy in its top 10 nutrition trends for 2019. The report said that evidence is growing that shows how well-managed, pasture-based dairy and 100% grass-fed cows can prevent and potentially reverse climate change. It predicts that in 2019, consumers will learn more about the effects this can have on the environment and about the sustainable ways to produce meat and dairy.