Price and transparency key barriers to eating sustainably

The British public’s desire to eat more sustainably is being thwarted by the high price of sustainable food and unclear labelling, new research has found.

More than 70% of Brits (71%) surveyed by WWF believe we should eat food that is better for the environment, but 65% think sustainable options are too expensive and 68% say they are difficult to identify and find in shops.

A third, meanwhile, say labelling on food products is unclear and not enough information is available.

The survey commissioned for WWF’s Eat4Change programme also found a lack of public knowledge about the various environmental impacts of food with just 53% claiming to know anything about the destruction of land for agriculture, 50% about pollution of water, air and soil, and 59% about food’s impacts on global warming and climate change.

Two thirds (65%), however, believe that eating sustainable food is key in tackling climate change and the destruction of nature. 

Despite almost half (49%) of around 2,000 people surveyed believing our food has a negative impact on the environment, only a third believe their own food choices are negative. They believe responsibility for reducing the environmental impact of our food lies with the UK government (58%), food manufacturers and distributers (58%) and supermarkets and restaurants (45%).  

People also believe it’s important to buy food with minimal packaging (41%) and which is unprocessed (36%).

“There is a clear public appetite to reduce the impact of what we eat on the environment,” said Katie White, director of advocacy and campaigns at WWF-UK. “The food we produce and buy is responsible for 60% of global nature loss – it needs to be much easier for us all to make greener choices.”

During the recent COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the CEOs of Co-op, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose committed to slash their impact across climate, deforestation and nature as part of a collective commitment for the food retail sector to halve its overall impact on the natural world by 2030, as tracked by WWF.

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