Consumers prioritise food waste reduction by switching to brands offering better shelf life

A recent study conducted by Kerry, a global leader in taste and nutrition, reveals that one third of consumers are willing to switch to brands or products that offer better shelf life.

This openness to change is being driven by consumers’ strong desire to act on food waste – a massive 98% of those surveyed were actively trying to minimise food waste, driven by various factors such as financial concerns, environmental considerations, and mindfulness of world hunger.

Among consumers surveyed in Thailand, 52% say they buy only what they need in an effort to reduce food waste. In South Africa, as many as 91% were concerned with food waste, with concern increasing at a higher rate than other countries globally over the past two years.

Meanwhile, 69% of consumers expressed an inclination to purchase products formulated to reduce food waste. This represents a significant opportunity for the food industry to innovate and create products that meet evolving consumer expectations.

The study, which involved 5,154 consumers across 10 countries, including Thailand, Australia and South Africa, found that 72% of respondents believe that extending the shelf life of a product would help them reduce waste. Additionally, 74% of consumers consider preservatives to be important when making food purchases.

Role of preservation

A total 82% of respondents expressed acceptance of natural preservatives, while 50% of consumers are open to purchasing products with artificial preservatives – although buying patterns indicate a higher acceptance of these solutions. Among consumers in Australia, while there was less emphasis on the importance of preservatives in food and beverages, 78% say they preferred natural preservatives.

Commenting on the findings, Ketan Trivedi, general manager, Food Protection & Preservation, at Kerry Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, said: “The insights reveal a high degree of consumer understanding about food safety, food waste, and importance of food preservation. Drawing from this, a clear mandate for brands is to address shelf life extension and drive an action plan for their products across various markets.”

Bert De Vegt, vice president of Food Protection & Preservation, at Kerry, said: “Our research clearly demonstrates that consumers have a strong desire to reduce food waste in their own homes, and they increasingly recognise the role of preservation in achieving this goal. As inflationary pressures remain, preventing products from going to waste has become more crucial than ever.

“With 29 September marking the UN International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, these findings further highlight an urgent need for the food industry to maintain action on food waste and improve the shelf life of products where possible. By doing so, companies can meet the evolving demands of consumers who are increasingly conscious of the impact of food waste on themselves, society, and the planet.”

As the market leader in preservation, Kerry’s portfolio includes unique sodium-free buffered vinegars, potassium acetates, multifunctional systems to solve complex preservation challenges, and a range of fermented wheat products for mould control in bread applications. Kerry also sits on the Consumer Goods Forum’s Food Waste Coalition of Action and uses insights to help customers and consumers demystify on-pack labels and date information.

Methodology 

In early 2023, Kerry embarked on a comprehensive research initiative in collaboration with C+R Research, Qualtrics, and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) to gain a deeper understanding of consumers’ opinions and behaviours regarding food waste. The study involved week-long, in-depth interviews and journalling sessions with 60 consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, France, and Thailand, as well as an extensive quantitative exploration with 5,154 consumers across the aforementioned countries plus Brazil, South Africa, Germany, Australia and Canada. Access the report here.

Kerry Group

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