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75% of shoppers ‘will boycott grocery brands’ over environmental concerns

Over three-quarters (77%) of UK grocery shoppers have, in the last 12 months, switched, avoided or boycotted buying certain products, or would consider doing so in the future, based on brands’ environmental policies.

Kantar questioned over 1,200 UK consumers between the ages of 16 and 65+ about their concern over a range of environmental issues, their purchasing decisions based on a brand’s sustainability credentials, environmental responsibility  and whether, as a consumer, they had ever decided to boycott buying a product or switch to another brand based on its environmental reputation. 

Brand loyalty is lowest among the youngest age group of 16-24 year-olds with 87% saying they have switched or might do so, with more males (24%) switching or boycotting brands than females (18%).

Responses differ considerably among generations too, with 40% of Millennials saying they have avoided buying, or decided to choose a different brand over the last 12 months, compared to only 9% of Baby Boomers. However almost half (46%) of this generation of 55-65+ year-olds indicated that while they hadn’t switched or boycotted brands in the last year because of their environmental credentials, they might consider doing so in the future – the highest among all age groups.

Harsh working conditions, environmental pollution and the overuse of packaging are some of the issues consumers think carefully about before purchasing FMCG products. 

Much needs to be done by the FMCG industry when it comes to publicising the positive work it is doing to address the environmental problems resulting from the throw-away, disposable culture we live in today, say 76% of consumers. This sentiment is high across all regions (>73%) with shoppers in the northwest of England (80%) agreeing followed by Greater London (78%). Only 9% considered this issue unimportant.

Mark Chamberlain, managing director of Brand, Kantar UK, said: “Responsible living is being driven by cross-generational groups of ‘woke’ consumers that look towards inspiring brand heroes as change leaders. Governments and organisations are being forced to listen and respond to consumers’ demands for greater transparency as businesses strive to become more purposeful.”

Almost 90% of respondents surveyed agree that brands need to take more responsibility for the waste they produce and the impact it this has on our environment. This sentiment was high across all age groups (>82%) but highest among those aged 65 and over (92%).

Three-quarters of shoppers agree that, due to inaction from many of the world’s governments, they want brands to act as forces for positive change in our society. However, when questioned about their response, over 70% of all consumers agreed that efforts by businesses to protect the environment are ‘too little, too late’, with younger generations of Millennials agreeing most with this statement (78%).

Environmental concerns

Consumers ranked global warming as their number one environmental concern (25%), followed by the overuse of plastic and other forms of packaging (18%) and then deforestation and the loss of biodiversity (14%). They appeared less concerned about the depletion of the ozone layer (4%), extraction of fossil fuels from the earth and natural resource depletion (5%), overfishing of our seas (6%) and household/industrial waste (8%).

These and many other of today’s environmental issues are caused, in part, by a lack of responsibility taken by some of the world’s leading brands, say 83% of consumers; a sentiment expressed most among 25-34-year-olds (88%).

Chamberlain added: “The rise in responsibility and conscious consumerism is being influenced by a top-down approach as the consumer voice grows and pushes forward environmental and social agendas.

“Consumers now expect the FMCG industry to be driven by some direction other than simply making a profit. These values are fast becoming key assets in helping boost brand value whilst projecting a positive corporate image, and by doing so businesses can demonstrate a clear sense of purpose. This is what consumers are now looking for in today’s brands, and this preference will only intensify as the next generation comes of age. Purpose-led FMCG brands enjoy stronger growth and a deeper connection with consumers.”

The study says UK brand Divine Chocolate  is an  FMCG brand that has earned greater trust from consumers due to its commitment to becoming more transparent and respect for the environment. While Waitrose has committed to no plastic and glitter in its Christmas crackers in 2020, Tesco has stopped using plastic bags for home deliveries and Morrisons now allows customers to use their own reusable containers at their meat, fish and cheese counters.

Kantar says the most-loved brands will be those that attempt to achieve a zero-carbon footprint by re-thinking operations and finding solutions that are fully sustainable both for the environment and the business bottom line.

Other key trends:

  • Plastic problem – Over half (53%) of consumers rank the overuse of plastic and other types of packaging as one of their top three environmental concerns. More women than men are concerned about it (58% v 49%), with 45-64 year-olds expressing most concern across all age groups (60%).
  • Buying decisions – 82% of 25-34 year-olds say they sometimes or always check a brand’s commitment towards sustainability, the environment and saving the planet before making a purchase.
  • Taking responsibility – Almost 90% of consumers agree that brands need to take more responsibility for the waste their products create and the impact it has on the environment, with 50% ‘strongly agreeing’. This sentiment is strong across all age groups (>82%) and is highest among the 65+ cohort (92%).
  • Younger generations – Those most concerned with the issue of global warming are 16-24 year-olds, the youngest age group overall, with 65% ranking it as one of their top three concerns; of those, over one-third said it was their number one concern. 
  • Boycotting brands – 76% of consumers said they had boycotted buying certain clothes, had switched brands in the last 12 months or were thinking of doing so because of a brand’s environmental policies.

PALLITE environmental credentials secure major endorsement

PALLITE has received a rubber stamp on its sustainability goals following an evaluation by Giraffe Innovation.

The paper-based transit and storage packaging specialist commissioned Giraffe Innovation to evaluate the environmental impact of its product range to support current and future customers in reaching their sustainability goals. 

The report addresses Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of PALLITE UK and Euro sized pallets and pallet boxes versus wood-based equivalents across their lifecycle. Various scenarios were modelled using indicative transport modes (by road, sea and air) as well as manufacturing.

The report shows that by changing from a wooden pallet to a PALLITE pallet, carbon emissions are reduced, overall freight load weight is reduced, and the general life cycle of a PALLITE pallet has less impact on the environment than a wooden pallet. 

Various scenarios were demonstrated in the report, one of which involved flying 10 standard pallets with corrugate boxes, each holding 500kg, from London Heathrow to JFK New York, a total of 5,536km.

This overall distance of 29,608km produces emissions of 36.77tCO2e. By replacing the wooden pallet and corrugate box with a PALLITE standard pallet box, emissions drop to 35.611tCO2e. That’s a total reduction of 1.101tCO2e, 0.148t less weight, saves 397.7 litres of fuel and a cost saving of £119 on fuel alone.

For context, that’s the same COemissions as 1,204 pounds of coal burned, 45 propane cylinders used for home barbeques, or 140,391 smartphones charged. It’s the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions avoided by 48 bin bags of waste being recycled instead of landfilled, or 41.8 incandescent lamps switched to LEDs. And lastly, is the equivalent carbon sequestered by 18.2 tree seedlings grown for 10 years or 1.3 acres of forest in one year.[i]

Matthew Marks, Quality Manager at PALLITE said: “Working with Giraffe has been insightful and by learning about the life cycle analysis of our product range with quantifiable data means we’re much better positioned to help our customers achieve their sustainability goals. It’s reassuring to know that our products are making a positive impact on how value chains and companies approach reducing their COemissions.”

[i] https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator

£20m funding available to reduce supply chain emissions

Organisations can now apply for a share of up to £20 million for collaborative projects that reduce emissions and build the UK supply chain.

It’s the latest part in a series of funding competitions delivered in partnership by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), Innovate UK and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Through a 10-year, £1 billion joint government and industry commitment, the APC exists to accelerate low carbon propulsion technologies in the UK, aiming to make the UK a global centre of excellence for next-generation low carbon vehicle development and production.

The competition focusses on projects that enhance UK capabilities in low carbon technologies for automotive and create a long-term supply chain, paying particular attention to the design, build and manufacture of zero tailpipe emission vehicles, along with projects that demonstrate a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, including motors, batteries, power electronics, hybridisation and alternative propulsion systems.

The areas for consideration include alternative propulsion systems, electric machines and power electronics, energy storage and energy management, lightweight vehicle and powertrain structures and thermal propulsion systems.

The competition opens 7th January 2019, with deadline for applications at midday on 6th March 2019.

More information on the completion and details on how to apply can be found here:

https://apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk/competition/279/overview