How Consumer Beliefs About Climate Change Have Impacted the Food Market

Climate change is a significant issue for politics and today’s social agenda. According to recent estimates, global temperatures will rise between 2.5 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the coming century, impacting global weather patterns and growing zones. While large-scale changes are slow moving and polarized, many individuals have taken it upon themselves to make changes to their personal habits that may affect the environment.

(Photo courtesy of

Food is one of the most popular ways for individuals to take control of their environmental impact. From altering our diets to purchasing from smaller regional farms, consumer desires are changing the way that food is produced, packaged, promoted and sold.

More Than Flavor

Environmentally conscious consumers are concerned with making choices that create less harm. They want to know that their meat is not producing too much methane and their imported apples do not have a large carbon footprint. These general concerns have created a market for sustainable food and brought sustainability to the forefront of the American food market.

The New York Times’ Guide to Sustainable Eating demonstrates the increasing desire for sustainable foods and resources. They detail changes that can be made to create a sustainable food economy and provide readers with information about implementing those changes in their personal lives.

New Information Sources

Consumers have also begun to look to third-party resources for information about their food and its sustainability. Organizations such as the Non-GMO Project and the Environmental Working Group provide ranked evaluations of foods, brands, and farming practices. Their work helps provide tangible measurements that quantify the environmental effects of food sources.

Consumers use these organizations to inform their purchasing habits. According to Consumer Reports, labels that help designate products as sustainable or environmentally conscious are “meaningful” and “highly meaningful” for purchasing decisions.

Changing Diets

In reaction to concerns about food’s impact on the environment, sustainable and low-impact diets have become increasingly popular. Veganism and vegetarianism are the most popular. According to a poll from The Vegetarian Resource Group, six percent of Americans identify as vegan or vegetarian and 27 percent of Americans eat vegetarian options when eating out. Nestle, even recently released a vegan meat range for European and American consumers.

(photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Overall, American consumers are making sustainability a trend, so new and existing producers are changing how they talk about and promote their products to meet their customers’ desires.

Changing Messages

To accommodate consumers’ growing concerns for environmentalism, many companies and producers have altered their practices, policies or mission to reflect sustainability and conservation. Starbucks recently pledged to eliminate plastic straws from their stores and McDonald’s has promised to source all of its packaging from renewable and recyclable sources by 2025.  

Both organizations are using their sustainable initiatives and actions to help promote their products and build a dedicated customer base. Promoting the companies as sustainable helps them tap into current issues and makes their products more relevant and marketable.

Organizations Built for Sustainability

(photo courtesy of Flickr)

Some organizations build their entire mission and services in response to environmentalism. Imperfect Produce is a food delivery service that distributes produce that would otherwise be wasted because of its appearance. Their business model was composed entirely in response to consumer desires and caters to the environmental market.

Overall, consumer desires have made sustainability important and marketable, making the possibility of a sustainable global food economy more possible and more likely.

Do you consider sustainability when you purchase food? Leave a comment with your opinions down below.

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