Several speakers addressed the issue of how to convince consumers to make more sustainable choices, including in a keynote session from award winning journalist Simran Sethi, who emphasised the importance of storytelling to make sustainable brands more personal to consumers – a message echoed by Stephan Ardesch of Ben & Jerry’s, who said 65% of consumers were willing to pay more when they learned of the brand’s environmental and social responsibility.
A paper from sustainability communications firm Ogilvy Earth also examined how to target consumers effectively with environmental messaging. It said that brands wishing to tout their green credentials should target ‘middle greens’ – who account for two-thirds of consumers – rather than ‘dark greens’ who already aim to buy sustainable products.
However, taste, rather than sustainability, remained the most important characteristic of foods and drinks for most consumers, according to several experts speaking at the event.
Slow Food Netherlands’ president Hans van der Molen said that brands should not forget that taste is the main reason people buy foods. An Alpro executive agreed, and highlighted the example of its plant-based foods designed to be healthy alternatives to meat and dairy products. The company said that although their sustainability credentials were a core value, taste and quality were crucial to their success.
More collaboration needed
Organic Monitor also said that greater industry collaboration was required to meet the challenge of feeding growing populations in a sustainable manner, and this emerged as a major theme of the conference.
Belgian retailer Delhaize cited its partnership with WWF, saying it was fundamental to improving the sustainability of its seafood supply; and French ingredients firm Nexira highlighted its partnership with SOS Sahel for the sustainable sourcing of acacia gum.