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Over three-quarters (78%) of consumers say it’s important to them to buy food that has a low environmental impact.

Conducted by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), ‘Food and You 2’ is a biannual survey of adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its purpose is to measure self-reported consumer knowledge, attitudes and behaviours related to food safety and other food issues.

Wave 4 of the study was published on August 10th 2022, based on research conducted between October 2021 and January 2022. A total of 5,796 adults from 4,026 households completed the survey.

The topics covered include several that are relevant for food businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, such as:

  • concerns about food,
  • eating out and takeaways,
  • food labelling,
  • food allergies, intolerances and other hypersensitivities, and
  • sustainability and environmental impact.

Key takeaways for food businesses

Food sustainability and environmental impact

  • When asked what contributed most to someone having a sustainable diet, respondents said choosing locally produced food or in-season food (59%), eating less processed food (50%) and minimising food waste (47%).
  • The most common changes respondents reported making in the previous 12 months were eating less processed food (40%) and reducing food waste (40%). 
  • Other changes reported were eating more fruit and vegetables (32%), buying food with minimal or no packaging (31%) and/or eating less meat, poultry or fish (28%).
  • Over one-quarter (26%) of respondents reported that they had started buying locally produced or seasonal food.
  • Around one-third (32%) of respondents reported that they currently eat meat alternatives, such as Quorn or Beyond Meat. The most common reasons given for this were for environmental or sustainability reasons (41%), for animal welfare reasons (35%) and health reasons (35%).

Key takeaway: Consumers are increasingly interested in sustainable choices. Implementing a climate-friendly menu with more plant-based options, reducing food waste in your restaurant and choosing local suppliers are all ways in which to demonstrate your value to your customers.

Consumer concerns about food

  • Most respondents (86%) had no concerns about the food they eat. 
  • Amongst those who did, the most common area of concern related to food production methods (31%), which included the use of additives (such as preservatives and colouring) in food products, the use of pesticides or fertilisers and how food has been produced/processed.
  • The second most common concern related to environmental and ethical issues, which included animal welfare/treatment of animals, food miles and the impact of producing/eating meat on the environment.
  • When prompted with a list of potential causes for concern, the most common answers selected were food waste (63%), the amount of sugar in food (59%) and animal welfare (56%).

Key takeaway: If you’re doing the work when it comes to quality ingredients, animal welfare and food waste, be sure to communicate this to your customers through smart sustainability marketing

Food labelling and allergens

  • Most respondents (92%) reported that they were confident that the food they buy is safe to eat and 86% believe that the information on food labels is accurate.
  • Just over one in 10 (12%) respondents said that they had a food intolerance, 4% reported having a food allergy and 1% reported having coeliac disease. 
  • Of the respondents who reported having a food allergy, the most common foods stated to cause a reaction were peanuts (26%) and fruit (24%).  
  • Of the respondents who reported having a food intolerance, the most common foods reported as causing a reaction were cow’s milk and products made with cow’s milk (41%) and cereals containing gluten (19%).
  • Over two thirds (69%) of respondents successfully identified the use-by date as the information which shows that food is no longer safe to eat.
  • Around two-thirds (67%) of respondents reported that they always check use-by dates before they cook or prepare food. 

Key takeaway: It’s essential to keep your customers safe through stringent allergen management and labelling. Automating this process removes the opportunity for human error and does the hard work for you.

Whether you’re interested in accurate and reliable allergen labelling, reducing food waste or communicating your sustainability efforts to your customers, Nutritics has an easy-to-use and fully automated solution for you. Book a free consultation today to see how Nutritics software can streamline your day-to-day business and help you meet your customers where they are.