Outlook: Consumers failing to connect with green choices

Consumers are being dazzled by the plethora of green and ethical labels, and feel too busy to make green choices, delegates to the Outlook Conference 2011 were told.

Tony Cooke, government relations director with leading foodservice supplier Sodexo, said industry intentions were genuine when it came the ethical schemes, but the danger was it was confusing consumers.

According to a recent survey by Which?, the consumer organisation, 47% of shoppers said there were two many things to think about without worrying about green issues on food, he told the conference.

He said there was still no pull from the consumers’ sector for environmentally sustainable products. “In fact, sustainable consumption is not a term that message-tests well with consumers.”

There was a significant gap between consumer intentions and actions. “When asked about what premium consumers attach to green products, 12% said they were willing to pay 10% or more. But if you know where these people are, send them in my direction.

“When prompted, or reminded of the issues, people will acknowledge the importance of environmental products, but it is difficult to translate that into practice at the checkout.”

He said companies like Sodexo were having to make some of the choices for consumers on issues like sustainability and take responsibility on such issues.

Cooke said Sodexo was a big supporter of ‘Meat Free Mondays’ in the US, where there was growing interest in reducing meat consumption, but said it was not something they were looking to do in the UK.