Unveiling the biggest consumer trends and desires in sustainable eating for 2024

26 Dec 2023

Trend Updates

Stepping into 2024, the surge in demand for eco-friendly and socially responsible food choices is at an all-time high. According to our latest Taste Tomorrow research, a notable 64% of global consumers actively seek sustainably produced products.

In the landscape of sustainable practices, companies should prioritize factors such as soil health, fair pricing, animal welfare, pollution reduction, and zero-waste packaging. To better understand consumer priorities on a global scale, we conducted surveys to unveil key concerns and preferences. Explore the dominant consumer trends and aspirations shaping the realm of sustainable eating in 2024. Stay ahead of the curve with insights into the latest sustainable food choices.

Today, just 15% of consumers state they don’t look for sustainable bread, cake, patisserie & chocolate products. That means 85% of people are interested in products that pay attention to sustainability in some shape or form. So be sure to make sustainability a top priority!

The top 10 consumer priorities with regards to sustainability around the globe

  1. Sustainable packaging - 31%

  2. Fair prices and a fair living income for producers and farmers - 28%

  3. Minimizing waste and pollution - 28% 

  4. Responsible sourcing of ingredients - 26% 

  5. Respect for animal welfare - 21% 

  6. Care for human rights, ensuring no child labor or forced labor - 18% 

  7. Ensuring safe and fair working conditions - 17% 

  8. Maximizing water conservation - 14%

  9. Use of regenerative agricultural methods - 13% 

  10. Maximizing use of alternative energy sources - 12% 

The differences between regions are small. The top 3 global concerns are also the top priority for consumers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and South America. In the Asia-Pacific Region and North America, responsible sourcing makes an appearance in the top 3.

These are the 3 that are most important to form your positioning when offering products as a conscious, ethical option:

1. Sustainable packaging

The most important aspect to consumers isn’t even your product itself, it’s the packaging it comes in. According to our consumer survey, 73% of all consumers think all food products should be sold in sustainable packaging. How do you make sure your packaging solutions align with consumer preferences? People are after stylish and aesthetic packaging that is preferably reusable. 63% of consumers globally are actively trying to limit the amount of single-use packaging when they are shopping for food. Try to opt for less packaging, packaging from recycled materials or even no packaging at all. 6 out of 10 consumers are actively on the lookout for food products with none or sustainable packaging. Consumers from Latin America are scoring higher on this aspect as compared to the global average.

Luckily, there are tons of new packaging innovations to choose from today. There’s bioplastics from avocado pits, packaging grown from fungi and hightech options such as mold-fighting bread bags and packaging solutions that tell you when food is at its prime. But beware, even though plastic might have a bad reputation among consumers, plastic elimination and replacement should not be your only focus according to Puratos’s Packaging Lead Tim van Caelenberg.

2. Fair prices and a fair living income for producers and farmers

For consumers in Europe and North America, fair pricing and a fair living income are the number one priority in regards to sustainable foods. They believe that products that are fair for farmers are better for us all. No wonder many chocolate wrappers nowadays are dotted with certifications and labels. Fair Trade Original, Rainforest Alliance, slave-free chocolate, they all give consumers guarantees on how the cacao was produced. 

The focus of sustainable consumers is shifting towards supply chains, sourcing and ethics. 65% of people are now looking for food where they know for sure that farmers receive a fair price and/or living income. In 2021, that was 60%. Greyston Bakery takes fair pay very seriously. This B-corp certified commercial bakery produces cookies and brownies (also the ones that are used in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream). The food wrapper states ‘Eat Brownies. Change Lives.’. They not just opt for fair trade ingredients wherever they can, but they also operate as inclusively as possible in their bakeries, where they work with a special open hiring policy.

Transparency matters In 2024, so be sure to give consumers more than just a glimpse into the journey of their food from farm to fork. Show where you source your ingredients, give farmers and producers a fair price and be sure to communicate everything clearly to your customers.

3. Minimizing waste and pollution 

Waste Not, Want Not. The fight against food waste is at the forefront of sustainable food choices in 2024. Consumers are actively seeking brands that adopt circular economy practices, from upcycled ingredients to compostable packaging. Our worldwide survey indicates that 65% of consumers has an interest in food products that claim zero-waste. Another 53% has an interest in food products from upcycled or repurposed ingredients, an increase of +10% as compared to 2021.

There are inspiring initiatives that minimize waste from every stage of the food production chain. Spent beer grains are used to create flour for bread, leftover parts of the cacao-fruit from the chocolate industry are upcycled into snacks and drinks. Unsold food products from bakers, patissiers and supermarkets can be saved from the trash can by platforms such as Too Good To Go. And if there is still bread or viennoiserie remaining, that can be used as a base for new products such as crisps or granola. 

Minimizing pollution is a more difficult challenge for bakers, patissiers and chocolatiers, although not impossible. The Dutch Bakery van Vessem is completely CO2-neutral and was the first bakery in the world that calculated the so-called ‘true price’ of their bread. True Pricing (or True Cost Accounting) is a tool to calculate the hidden costs of products, such as water consumption, energy consumption, CO2 emissions, degrading soil and the impact of growth agents and pesticides on nature, animals and our health. These so-called hidden costs are currently not paid by the polluters, but by people, animals and the environment. But with their Hollandsch Brood, Bakery van Vessem has managed to develop a product that has a much smaller footprint than conventional breads. They chose grains from farmers that use fewer pesticides and growth agents, locally grown of course to reduce transportation. Bread-enhancing products are skipped to further improve the environmental impact. Choices like these make the bread much less polluting. 

Discover more on the sustainable strategy of Bakery van Vessem >

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