Sustainable nutrition trends:
Discover the sustainability trends and claims shaping nutrition in 2023, and how brands can tap into them to create a future based on sustainable nutrition for all.
Sustainable nutrition trends: what are consumers looking for from food and nutrition brands in 2023?
Els Zeeuwen, Director of Branding & Communication at FrieslandCampina Ingredients, discusses how brands can tap into the latest consumer sustainability trends with transparency, authenticity and the latest technology.
Sustainability is at the top of the consumer agenda and this shows no sign of slowing down in 2023 as people turn to the brands they use every day to help them achieve their own personal sustainability goals. But how are the trends around sustainability evolving in light of global inflation and the increased cost of living? And how can brands tap into consumer preferences and deliver sustainable nutrition that meets the needs of health-conscious consumers? In this blog, Els Zeeuwen, Director of Branding & Communication, discusses what’s front of mind for consumers in 2023, what sustainability claims they’re looking for and how technology can help nutrition brands exceed consumer expectations.
Q: Firstly, what has been most important to consumers in 2022 when it comes to sustainability?
A: 2022 was a real turning point. There was a radical shift in where sustainability lay in consumers’ personal priorities. In fact, one of the biggest trends in 2022 was ‘health of the planet’ overtaking ‘health of people’ as consumers’ top concern[i] for the first time ever according to research by Innova Market Insights. Considering the health impact of COVID-19 over recent years, this is hugely significant and tells us a lot about where consumers are focusing their attention going forward. To me, this signifies that there’s a greater understanding of the interlinked nature between health of people and planet, and that you can’t easily separate the two.
This shift can be seen in consumer purchasing habits and brand expectations. Specifically, consumers placed a lot of emphasis on sustainable nutrition in 2022. Nearly half of people worldwide have made changes to their diet in the last two years to become more sustainable,[ii] and almost two thirds specifically want food and nutrition brands to take more action to protect the planet.[iii] There’s a real push towards planet-first nutrition that’s both healthy and sustainable – something we’re also prioritising at FrieslandCampina Ingredients.
Q: Do you think health of the planet will continue to be consumers’ number one priority in 2023 and beyond? And why do you think this is the case?
A: I certainly hope so. But it’s difficult to say with much certainty what the next few years will hold, especially considering global increases in the cost of living may push more consumers to reprioritise. For now, however, it appears that sustainability will stay high on the consumer agenda. Data from Innova Market Insights for this year shows that consumers have chosen health of the planet as their number one priority for the second year in a row.[iv]
There are several factors at play with this trend. For instance, the threat of exceeding a global temperature of 1.5°C is seemingly more likely and we have Gen Z coming of age, who are very focused on their environmental impact. But ultimately, I think that consumers of all ages and backgrounds are increasingly recognising their role in protecting the planet, and how this protects health for future generations to come. We’re all more aware of how our personal consumption habits impact climate change and are seeking to change these habits – for example by buying products from companies that are playing an active role in sustainability, such as reducing their carbon footprint or protecting biodiversity. It remains to be seen how this may evolve over the coming year and immediate future, but in the long term I believe it will become the norm for consumers to consider the environmental impact of every decision they make.
Q: Which sustainable nutrition claims have been gaining traction and why? How can brands tap into these?
A: Many food and nutrition products now boast some form of sustainability messaging – but consumers are increasingly sceptical and claims that run the risk of overpromising can be perceived ‘greenwashing’. The claims that stand out to consumers are those which are specific and easy-to-understand – especially if they’re backed up with statistics and measured insights. For example, including information about how your brand is protecting natural ecosystems over vague terms like ‘nature friendly’. Emissions reduction is another type of claim that’s increasingly popular. For example, 50% of consumers in central Europe already proactively seek out information on a product’s CO2 emissions,[v] especially when it comes to their food.
One way to ensure that your brand’s sustainability claims are meaningful for consumers is to have them verified – 83% of consumers are more likely to trust a product’s sustainability claims if it has been substantiated by a third party.[vi] At FrieslandCampina Ingredients, we want to help our customers effectively communicate their product’s impact to consumers – that’s why we partnered with ClimatePartner to create our first ever carbon-neutral infant formula base powder. This partnership enables us to accurately calculate our ingredients’ footprints, make emissions reductions and offset the remainder through ClimatePartner’s certified initiatives, as well as communicate the impact to consumers using ClimatePartner’s label and tracking systems.
Q: How will these trends evolve in 2023 and beyond, especially in light of the current global economic outlook? And how can companies continue to support consumers in achieving their sustainability goals?
A: We can certainly expect consumers to stay focused on sustainability, but brands need to be aware that consumers are also prioritising price. This presents a challenge – especially as 72% of consumers are worried about the cost of living and 63% are considering reducing their spend on food and drink as a result.[vii] So, while we can be confident that consumers are still looking to be as sustainable as possible, they’re also watching the bottom line.
One way brands can support people in making sustainable decisions is to be clear on their product’s added value, so people can make conscious and considered decisions about where they spend their money. Also, companies can support consumers by helping in the fight against food waste – something that has both an environmental and economic impact. Ingredients can play an important role in opening up this opportunity. For example, our Excellion® TextPro, has been designed to help prolong the shelf life of high protein bars, which can help reduce food waste and provide consumers with sustainable, cost-saving products.
Q: Finally, how will technology impact on sustainability in the future?
A: One of the areas where I see technology having the biggest impact is in driving transparency. Consumers want to know the story behind the products they purchase, and what processes along the supply chain make that product a more sustainable option. For example, 84% of consumers are more likely to buy food that has been produced by farming measures designed to reduce carbon footprint.5 Technology can bring these stories to the fore by providing tangible and meaningful data. Our biodiversity monitor, for example, helps us keep track of our impact on nature on our member farms –from the ammonia and nitrogen levels of the soil, the population dynamics of pollinators and insects and even our greenhouse gas emissions in grams of CO2 per kilo of milk per hectare.
It’s important to note, however, that transparency isn’t just shouting about success – it also means being transparent about the difficulties of sustainability. 3 in 5 consumers say that their trust in brands increases when they communicate the challenges they are facing.3 Looking into the future, I anticipate that technology will play a huge role in bringing sustainability messaging to life.
To learn more about the latest consumer trends for 2023 and how your brands can tap into them, read our new trends magazine for the Performance, Active and Medical Nutrition markets here.
Or, to learn more about our wide range of sustainability initiatives that are helping to create more sustainable nutrition for all, visit our sustainability hub.
[i] Innova Market Insights, Top Ten Trends 2022, 2021
[ii] Innova, ‘Top Ten Trends’, 2022
[iii] FMCG Gurus, ‘Top Ten Trends’, 2021
[iv] Innova Lifestyles and Attitudes Survey, 2022
[v] Climate Partner, Climate Awareness Report 2021: Great demand for carbon-neutral products’ https://www.climatepartner.com/en/news/climate-awareness-report-2021-consumer-survey
[vi] Compare Ethics, ‘Building Consumer Trust in Sustainability’, 2020
[vii] FMCG Gurus, Top 10 Trends for 2023, 2022
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