Europeans more eco-conscious than Brits

UK shoppers are less concerned about sustainability than their European counterparts, according to IRI’s latest European Shopper Insights Survey.

The research involved 3,300 consumers from seven European countries, including more than 500 in the UK.

It showed that: 65% of UK consumers prefer to buy products from companies that demonstrate fairness, transparency and integrity (versus 71% in Europe); 67% favour companies that “respect the environment” (versus 72%); and 67% prefer local products (versus 68%).

Only 39% of Brits are willing to pay more for organic food (versus 52%). Local produce (42%) and healthy foods (55%) are stronger incentives for paying a premium.

The main reason for choosing local is to support small producers (55%), followed by perceived higher quality (46%), better taste than industrial products (33%) and less pollution from transport (32%). For a third (33%) of those who don’t buy local, lack of availability (39%) and price (33%) are the main barriers. But again, more Europeans are prepared to go that extra mile – 67% will pay a premium for local, whilst 60% will pay more for healthy foods.

When it comes to what makes a “quality product”, good taste tops the list (64%) in the UK, followed by “natural” (46%) and the use of “quality raw materials” (43%). “Environmentally friendly packaging” (33%) is more important than whether it is healthy (32%) or fair trade (26%).

Unsurprisingly, the report shows further evidence of plasticphobia amongst shoppers. In the UK, 73% prefer to buy products that come in “environmentally friendly” packaging.

Olly Abotorabi, senior regional insights manager at IRI said: “Demonstrating the value their brand generates for the category alongside commitment to a so-called ‘circular economy’ for packaging – evolving to a re-usable rather than single use packaging – will be key going forward. In future this could be key to keeping products on retailers’ shelves.”

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