CHICAGO — As consumer demand for sustainable food and drink continues to grow, processors are increasing their supply, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), which has tracked more than 13,000 new sustainable food and drink products since 2005.

Although 84% of consumers claim they regularly buy green or sustainable food and drink, some don’t know what the claims actually mean.

“Packaging claims, such as ‘recyclable’ or ‘eco- or environmentally friendly’, are fairly well known to consumers, but sustainable product claims such as ‘solar/wind energy usage’ or ‘Fair Trade’ have yet to enter the mainstream consumer consciousness,” said David Browne, senior analyst. “They may have heard of the terms, but they’d be hard-pressed to define them.”

Forty percent of those surveyed have never heard of the solar/wind energy usage claim. The 37% that have say they’ve never purchased food or drink bearing the claim. Reduced carbon footprint/emissions is another lesser-known claim, as 32% have never heard of it. Thirty-four percent say they’ve never heard of the Fair Trade claim.

Forty-five percent of sustainable food and drink users cite a perceived belief in superior quality as the reason behind their purchases, according to Mintel research. Meanwhile, 43% say they buy sustainable food and drink because they’re concerned about environmental/human welfare and 42% say they’re concerned with food safety.

“These reasons vary in importance across different demographics,” Browne said. “What’s most important to young adults may not be the primary deciding factor for affluent consumers. Marketers should consider this in their claims closely; noting that health, welfare, and safety are important for nearly all consumers.”

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