In total, over one-third of the Norwegian population – 34% - believe that grocery manufacturers “do not care about the environment”, according to a survey commissioned by Orkla and conducted by TNS Kantar.
Scepticism rises among the under 30s, with 42% of this age bracket agreeing with the statement, the research revealed.
Most Norwegian consumers believe that, of all the actors in the supply chain, they are the ones that “do the most for the environment”. Half of respondents said that consumers were most engaged in helping the environment. This was followed by farmers, with 12% of people identifying raw material suppliers are most active in their environmental efforts. Just 2% said grocery producers “do the most”.
When it comes to packaging, more than half of respondents think manufacturers are unconcerned about reducing packaging. Meanwhile, 34% of people disagreed with the idea that grocery manufacturers “make it easy” for people to make sustainable consumption choices.
Orkla vice president of corporate social responsibility, Ellen Behrens, told FoodNavigator that the company believes challenging this negative perception presents its brands with an opportunity to appeal to ethically minded consumers.
Consumer demand for ‘green’ brands
Orkla believes that there is growing consumer demand for brands with a green reputation.
The Sustainable Brand Index Report 2018 found that 62% of Norwegian consumers state sustainability concerns impact their buying decisions, she noted. “Moreover, 26% belong to two consumer categories called “smart” and “dedicated”, who are interested in sustainability and want to make a difference through their buying decisions,” Behrens said.
The CSR chief pointed to Orkla’s launch of new brands such as Klar as proof consumers in the Nordics respond positively to products that are viewed as sustainable.
“Last year, we launched a new brand called Klar, which includes a range of cleaning products with carefully selected raw materials and post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. The products are vegan and carry the environmental Swan label. They have been very well received by Norwegian consumers, confirming our belief that many consumers are ready to make a positive change.”
In its food portfolio, Orkla is developing four key brands within the sustainability area area: Naturli, Anamma, Paulúns and brand new confectionery brand Vill.
Naturli plant-based drinks, spreads, sweets and ready meals are 100% natural, vegan and organic. Growth of the brand has been supported by like-for-like growth in existing SKUs but also through line extensions, the company revealed.
Late last year, Orkla entered into a partnership with McDonald’s to develop a vegan burger via its Swedish Anamma brand. The company, which acquired Anamma a few years ago, has experienced “very strong growth” in sales of vegetable-based products.
Elsewhere, Orkla continues to invest in innovation behind Paulúns, a good-for-you brand launched in Sweden in 2005. The brand was originally focused on breakfast cereals and has since extended into other areas as well.
Finally, Orkla has commenced the rollout of a new confectionery brand, Vill, in Norway. Vill, which translates to Wild in English, also comes in response to demand for healthier, natural products made with local ingredients.
‘Trust takes time’
Orkla’s attempt to woo the green consumer is also supported by its broader sustainability commitments.
“Orkla has taken an initiative to contribute to increased pan-industry engagement for the global sustainability goals. More specifically, we have invited ten other Norwegian companies to join us in building a strong Norwegian team for the SDGs by committing to the targets and become advocates for them,” Behrens revealed.
The company has outlined its sustainability ambitions to 2025 with targets including 100% sustainable sourcing of raw materials, 100% recyclable packaging, and a switch to fossil-free energy. From a 2014 baseline, the group also intends to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60%, reduce energy and water consumption by 30%v and halve food waste. On the health and wellness side, Orkla wants to “double the consumption of products and services for better health,” Behrens noted.
“We do see the low perceptions as an opportunity for positively surprising consumers by showing that we care,” she said. “But at the same time, we know that trust takes time to build, so the figures also show that we have a way to go. In Orkla, we are determined to be part of the movement necessary to make the transition into sustainable value chains, and we hope that consumers will appreciate what we do.”