What Swiss consumers expect from companies and policymakers
Concerns about sustainability influence many areas of life. In Switzerland, production of and expenditure on food have a greater impact on sustainability than any other sector, accounting for 28 per cent of Switzerland’s total environmental pollution. Consumer demand is prompting major retailers to make greater use of sustainability labels and to develop their own brands of sustainably produced food. Despite the clear trend towards greater sustainability, however, consumer attitudes vary, and those wanting to eat more sustainably face several obstacles.
Deloitte conducted two representative surveys of 1,500 people living in Switzerland to explore the wide range of consumer attitudes and the demand for and obstacles to sustainable food and nutrition.
- A large majority of Swiss consumers surveyed (79%) say that sustainability concerns have some degree of influence on their eating habits. Compared with the average across the European Union (59%), this means that Swiss consumers attach relatively high importance to sustainable food.
- Almost two-fifths of respondents (39%) believe that the main responsibility for sustainable food and nutrition lies with food producers. Just under one-third (31%) believe that the main responsibility lies with the consumer – that is, themselves – while a considerably smaller proportion believe that it lies with retailers and wholesalers (16%), the government (12%) or the media (2%).
- The major obstacle to eating (more) sustainably is the higher cost of sustainable food compared with conventionally produced food. On average, survey respondents are willing to pay 26 per cent more for sustainably produced food. One-fifth of respondents are willing to pay 50 per cent more or even more, but the same proportion are unwilling to pay any more for sustainable food.
- Almost two-thirds of consumers (64%) believe that retailers should sell a wider range of sustainable food, while the vast majority (78%) are in favour of compulsory sustainability information on food labels.
- A relative majority (45%) say they would be willing to replace meat with plant-based alternatives in future, though considerably fewer would be willing to eat meat grown in a laboratory or insects (17% and 13% of responses respectively).
Sustainably produced food enjoys high popularity
Higher prices for sustainably produced food as the major obstacle
Recommendations for companies and policymakers
To help consumers overcome the above mentioned obstacles and promote more sustainable food consumption, companies and policymakers can do several things. You can find additional details for each of these recommendations in the downloadable report.
|We recommend food producers, retailers and wholesalers to||We advise policymakers to|
|1. Use the potential demand for sustainable food,||1. Make sustainability information mandatory|
|2. Make it easier to switch to eating sustainably,||2. Reflect real costs in pricing|
|3. Reduce food waste||3. Educate the public and raise consumers’ awareness|
|4. persuade consumers of the added value of sustainability.||4. Create incentives for sustainable agriculture.|
This study is based on two online surveys, each of around 1,500 Swiss residents, conducted in late April and early May 2021. The samples were representative in terms of age, gender and region. Some questions were based on the “One bite at a time: Consumers and the transition to sustainable food” study carried out by the European Consumer Organisation so that the findings for Switzerland could be compared with those for the European Union. Because of rounding, percentages may not add up to 100.
The authors also conducted face to face interviews with experts from the following companies and organisations: Bio Suisse, Emmi, Haco Group, Mirai Foods, ORIOR, and Too Good To Go Schweiz.
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