Trend: Consumption with compassion – care for nature, animals and people

Increasing numbers of consumers have become aware of the conditions under which their food is produced – and concerns about unfair production conditions, undesirable environmental impact, inferior standards of animal welfare, etc. are growing.

This article explores one of the dominant trends in 2018 - Consumption with compassion.

Read about all the trends that will characterise 2018

Respect and consideration for people, animals and nature increasingly play a part in determining consumers’ decisions about what food and drink they put in their shopping trolleys. An awareness of the factors under which food is produced and concerns about unfair production conditions, undesirable environmental impact and standards of animal welfare, etc. are increasingly preoccupying the minds of consumers.

Consumer Economist at the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, Marianne Gregersen explains: “In our surveys, we see increasing numbers of consumers who are keen to make a difference through their consumption and actions. We all want a good conscience – and consumers want producers and the retail sector to demonstrate the same attitude and accountability.”

The popularity of fair trade, organic, and animal welfare labels are key indicators of this trend and in 2018, stories about high standards of animal welfare (independent of various labels) can boost the growth of certain food categories. Aware and concerned consumers are particularly attracted by stories about high animal welfare standards and sustainable, responsible production.

Marianne explains “Over 50 per cent indicate that they consider sustainability to some or to a great extent when they buy food and drink. And when consumers are asked what they want conventional food production to focus on, 'Good animal welfare' is the top scorer for proteins. Consumers, therefore, are really focused on this now.”

Alongside the trend for responsible and compassionate consumption is the fact that consumers are also looking critically at their own consumption – not least the type of food they eat and how this impacts the environment. In recent years, organic products have seen strong growth. Over a third always – or almost always – opt for organic products. This is particularly driven by a wish to avoid traces of pesticides in fruit and vegetables and also to contribute to a higher standard of animal welfare.

At the same time, consumers are attempting to ’downsize’ the categories that involve excessive food waste or where production is particularly damaging to the climate. The latter is one of the reasons why there is currently a rise in popularity of plant-based foods.

The reason for cutting down on meat is primarily for health reasons, but many consumers also put forward the argument that they have concerns about animal welfare and/or the climate.

"Consumers the world over are increasingly aware of the ethics and transparency of meat production. Traceability, food safety and animal welfare are becoming more important and should be reliably supplied by all consumers to create peace of mind,” says Marianne Gregersen who believes that there are good opportunities for the growth of more niche meat products with a good story to tell and a high standard of animal welfare.