Our food system has an enormous influence and impact on climate change and causes of migration (poverty, hunger, etc.). To guarantee a sustainable change in attitudes and behaviours, it is necessary to analyse and understand behaviour patterns, as they allow us to guide our action to promote a more just, decent, and inclusive world.
Between the 13th and 21st of August 2020, as part of the #GoEAThical – Our food. Our Future campaign, we asked 8,850 grocery shoppers in 17 European countries about their buying behaviour and attitudes towards ethical food. The survey was conducted in national online panels, in which persons involved in the household’s food purchases were selected from a representative sample of people aged between 20 and 35 years (additionally differentiated by gender and region).
The ethical dimension is also important. At least 29% of respondents prefer options with less plastic/packaging and, as is the case with 25% of respondents, fair trade products. Human and Animal Rights are also the concern of 23-24% of the respondents.
Not consuming unhealthy ingredients such as sugar, fat and allergens, as well as organic products, are also representative decision factors for 23% and 21% of consumers, respectively. 10% of the respondents opt for vegetarian or vegan products, being slightly below the average of 13% of the seventeen countries of the study.
Attitudes towards Ethical Food
65% of Portuguese respondents say they identify completely or strongly with the claim for Ethical food, being far above the European average – 52%.
In relation to consumption habits, among the respondents who make supermarket purchases, it can be determined that they agree, very or completely, with the following statements:
- 39% – Ethical food is too expensive for me and It takes too much time to pay attention to ethical food.
- 31% – I pay attention to ethical food criteria when choosing a venue to eat outside or a food delivery service.
- 28% – Ethical food is easily available for me.
A certain part of the sample does not trust product information or labels (20%) and 18% believe that ethical food is just another way for companies to make money.
Responsibilities and laws
More than half of Portuguese respondents (53%) say that European Union legislation and consumers (49%) are key actors to change their policies or behaviour to promote more equitable food systems.
43% of respondents also defend the role of food retailers in this process.
Also 56% of respondents believe that change is easier when it is triggered by a law requiring key players to improve conditions along their supply chains.
The sources of information are important factors of the decision-making process in consumption. Facing the European average, the Portuguese are the most active, with 15% of respondents claiming to seek informationabout food issues.
Regarding the influence of the individual on the process of change towards fairer food systems, 45% of respondents say they believe engaging in food justice activities can raise awareness.
When asked about what kind of activity they would like to get involved in, 58% says they prefer online actions, such as petitions or hashtags. Also 21% select boycott campaigns (online and offline). It is noted that 18% says they do not want to participate in any of the activities listed in the questionnaire – online actions, boycott campaigns, general street protests, protest activities in front of supermarkets.
As in other European countries, 92% of Portuguese respondents buy groceries in supermarkets and hypermarkets. This practice is part of consumer habits that also privilege food marketplace and artisan shops (e.g. independent bakeries or butchers), representing 34% and 27% of total choices, respectively.
Options with a specific ethical positioning, such as organic shops, zero waste / plastic-free shops, food cooperatives and farmer box (deliveries) have little representation in the survey sample, collecting between 5% and 9% of the choices.
However, these results may not only reflect demand, but also the low supply in the national market, in a segment that is in weak growth.
One of the main objectives of the #GoEAThical – Our food. Our Future campaign is to raise awareness and mobilize young Europeans for the adoption of sustainable consumption patterns and thus contribute to the promotion of fairer, more decent, and sustainable development.