CHICAGO — “Climavorism,” which involves consumers purchasing food based on how the food impacts climate, has taken root in America, according to a survey released April 20 by global management consulting firm Kearney.
The survey had 1,000 US consumers self-report their buying behavior in the sectors of grocery, foodservice and online ordering. “Climavorism” was strongest in grocery stores where 27% of respondents said the environmental impact of a food item would significantly influence their food choice. The percentages were 21% for online ordering and 15% for restaurants.
Cost was the biggest influence in grocery stores at 73%, followed by taste at 71% and nutrition at 54%. Cost also was the biggest influence in online ordering at 72%, followed by taste at 67% and nutrition at 37%. The percentages for restaurants were taste at 77%, cost at 67% and nutrition at 38%.
Climate-conscious foods that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions still must taste good and be on par with or below the market cost of products with larger carbon footprints, according to the report. Consumers may take “baby steps” toward climavorism, such as by switching to chicken from beef, according to the report. Eighty-three percent said once a week they would be willing to substitute fish, chicken, pork or plant-based protein for beef.
In the survey 15% said they were very aware of the environmental impact of their food choices while 65% said they were somewhat aware and 20% said they were not aware.
Based on the collective actions of consumers, manufacturers, retailers and lawmakers, Kearney projects that by 2030 the majority of US consumers’ routine food choices will be climate-directed. Food companies Tyson, Cargill, JBS, Nestle and Kraft Heinz have announced GHG emission reduction targets as have retailers Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods Market, Ahold Delhaize and Target.“Food companies must add ‘climate impact’ to their product reformulation and design-to-value campaigns to prepare for the rise of the ‘climavore’ consumer,” said Corey Chafin, associate partner in Kearney’s consumer practice and the study’s lead author.