TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — Compared to a year ago, 23% more consumers in the United States are prioritizing sustainable food choices, according to a study released Jan. 22 by Tastewise, a food intelligence start-up powered by artificial intelligence (A.I.).
The report analyzed more than two billion social interactions, more than three million online recipes and a menu database of 274,000 restaurants.
Health benefits accounted for 39% of people’s social interactions on sustainability although the number dropped 16% year over year.
Other attributes in double-digit percentages were local at 15%, up 17% year over year, and recycle at 13%, up 4% year over year. Waste, at 8.5%, was up 20% year over year.
“Although consumers are increasingly concerned about waste generally, they are still apathetic about the wastefulness of the animal agriculture industry — a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, water contamination, deforestation and a host of other environmental calamities,” the report said. “Meat is addressed in only 10% of waste discussion.”
Only 1% of the online sustainable conversations discussed animal rights.
Social interactions on sustainable coffee increased 8.5% year over year.
“Today’s consumers want to steer clear of coffee’s ‘bitter’ side (harmful labor and environmental practices), instead focusing on organic, responsibly sourced beans, recycled capsules and fresh brews,” the report said.
California accounted for 22% of restaurants in the United States that promoted sustainability while the state accounts for 12% of the U.S. population.
Sustainable seafood was the most common sustainable category in menus and recipes. Within sustainable seafood, pollock was the most common found on menus and salmon was featured heavily in social conversations about sustainability nationwide.
“If a menu or a product doesn’t offer sustainable seafood, it’s time to catch up to consumers’ heightened culinary consciousness,” said Alon Chen, co-founder and chief executive officer of Israel-based Tastewise.
Tastewise defines sustainability as the practice of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the same ability for future generations.