Photo: Danish Agriculture & Food Council

Danes willing to change behaviour to support the climate and sustainability

The Danish Agriculture & Food Council has, for the second time, studied the Danes’ attitudes and priorities to sustainability, including which sustainability measures are seen as the preferred options.

In general, Danes are concerned about the climate, the environment, and sustainability and are willing to change their habits and behaviours to address the challenges. Typically, Danes find their own way when it comes to deciding what sustainability and climate-related actions they could envisage taking themselves.

Some 95 per cent have either changed their behaviour or are willing to change their behaviour for the sake of the climate, the environment and sustainability. Their willingness to change stems from a strong concern about the state of the world: more than six out of ten Danes are worried about the excessive build-up of plastic, pollution, global warming and deforestation. Food is also an issue. 65 per cent of Danes responded that they think “to a certain extent” or “to a great extent” about sustainability and food and drink.

Focus on trade-off between various actions
The survey focuses on highlighting the trade-off involved in consumers choosing between a number of selected sustainability actions. A total of 35 different actions that could potentially affect the environment, climate and sustainability were studied in 2019 and again in 2020. The following covers some of the results from the study.

Slightly less priority given to sustainability and the purchase of food and drink
Sustainability and food is a broad concept that can, according to consumers, encompass various aspects - from the way food is produced on the farm to consumers’ shopping and consumption habits. When purchasing food and drink, two out of three Danes think about sustainability to a certain or great extent, but only 11 per cent do so to a great extent, which reflects the fact that many other selection criteria are at play when Danes buy food and drink.

Fig. 2.1
To what extent is sustainability a factor when you buy food and drink?

Fig. 2.1: Also, when buying food and drink, focus on sustainability has slightly diminished compared to last year in that fewer people take sustainability into account 'to a great extent'.

When Danes think about sustainability when buying food and drink, it is still primarily based on the desire to take care of nature and leave the planet in a good state for future generations.

The wish to prevent pollution is also important to half the respondents. By contrast, personal health, improved quality and an easier conscience come further down the list.

Fig. 2.2
In your opinion, what are the most important reasons for buying food and drink that is more sustainably produced?

Figure 2.2: One area that acquired slightly increased focus in 2020 compared to 2019 was” Better for animals” as a reason for buying sustainable food and drink.

Epinion for Danish Agriculture & Food Council, August 2019 (n=1553), August 2020 (n=1524).

Also, in terms of the actions to which consumers attach slightly less importance in 2020 compared to last year, the trade-off should be viewed against the pandemic. For example, the decline in the importance of minimising packaging consumption and of washing clothes at a lower temperature may be due to preventing the virus from spreading. Similarly, more time at home has resulted in less importance being assigned to streaming less and saving on heat, water and electricity.

Fig. 3.6
How big or small an impact do you think ”action” has in terms of creating a positive impact on the climate, environment and sustainability?

The graph shows the development in the top 2 selected actions, i.e. the percentage who answered ”of very great importance” or ”great importance”

Source: Epinion for Danish Agriculture & Food Council August 2019 (n=1553), August 2020 (n=1524). Each action was assessed on a 4-point scale: ”Of very great importance”, ”Great importance”, ”Of limited importance”, ”Of no importance”. Here are the actions that with 90-95 per cent certainty have taken on less importance from 2019 to 2020.

One consumer segment is especially willing to live more sustainably
Different types of behaviour can be used to consider how Danes prioritise sustainable choices in their day-to-day lives. The study, which was based on 35 sustainability-based questions, divided consumers into different segments based on their responses. One example of a segment with a particular willingness to change habits and behaviour is the “Transport Minimalists”.

"Transport-minimalists” stand out by being especially willing to change their transport habits, i.e. cut back on air transport and invest in electric/more fuel efficient cars. For some, it is also a question of driving less and using more public transport.

67 per cent of this segment responded that they are concerned about climate change – where the average is 53 per cent. In line with this, no less than 90 per cent in the segment also responded that they are "definitely" or "to some extent" willing to change their behaviour as regards the climate, the environment and sustainability. This covers the fact that as many as 48 per cent in the segment answered that they are "definitely willing to change their behaviour", which is significantly higher than the average. This segment, therefore, shows the greatest willingness to change. The group is also more concerned about animal welfare in food production (46 per cent) than the average (37 per cent). Those in the segment also state that they would rather buy less meat of better quality (48 per cent) than the average consumer (37 per cent).

If we take a closer look at the profile of Transport minimalists, we can see that:

  • There is a predominance of men in the segment, with 62 per cent men and 38 per cent women.
  • Segment 4 is evenly split across age groups, which is a change since 2019 when this segment was clearly dominated by older people and an under-representation of people under the age of 30.
  • The segment is spread across the country.



Climate and sustainability is a megatrend and the topic has been studied in many analyses carried out by the Danish Agriculture & Food Council. This analysis focuses on consumers’ priorities and actions in relation to sustainable consumption. The analysis was carried out for the first time in 2019 and repeated in 2020. This report looks at developments in the Danes’ views of sustainability from 2019 to 2020.

The design of the study consists of a combination of:

• A mobile ethnographic study from 2018 where the daily lives and buying habits of 39 Danes were examined,
• A focus group survey from 2018 with the same consumers for a deeper insight into the motivations for acting sustainably.
• A quantitative study from 2019 and 2020 for a more general insight into the attitudes and priorities of Danes between the ages of 18-70 to sustainable behaviour. 1553 interviews were conducted in 2019 and 1524 interviews in 2020 using largely identical questionnaires. 

If you would like more information about the report, please contact Kirsten Vernon Kristiansen.

Kirsten Vernon Kristiansen

Export- & Marketing Manager

+45 33 394 381