Consumer sustainability trends have been strongly accelerated by the events of 2020, and they are already starting to emerge across multiple markets. Despite extreme unpredictability and uncertainty, the pandemic has certainly helped create greater public awareness and deepen consumer understanding of the impact we are having on planet Earth. The environmental movement has gained traction and consumers have become more sensitive to the environmental impact of their shopping decisions: packaging, ingredients, manufacturing processes, emissions, recycling. According to recent research by PwC, 52% of consumers from 26 countries worldwide admit to being more eco-friendly than they were 6 months before, and 51% of respondents value transparency and traceability as key purchasing factors.

Eco-friendly consumerism is therefore here to stay, and climate action is no longer limited to government decisions and policies. Consumers are taking responsibility for their impact on the planet, as the zoonotic pandemic still affecting our lives has made them more closely aware of the connection between human health and the health of the natural world – and how easily threats to one can be passed to the other. A 2020 survey by The Carbon Trust found that two thirds of consumers support carbon labelling on products across France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the US. Big, multinational brands are making moves to roll it out, and it is likely that consumers will begin to expect it from smaller, more local, or convenient brands too.


According to research by Deloitte, reducing the consumption of meat and animal-based products is the fourth most popular method of supporting sustainability by concerned consumers. According to a study by FAO, global livestock emissions represent 14.5% of all anthropogenic GHG emissions, which is more than the emissions of all cars, planes, trucks, ships combined. This number alone would suffice to justify the multiple pleas to reduce our meat and dairy consumption, but apart from emission themselves, we must face the other truth linked to the livestock sector: deforestation. Animal agriculture is responsible for at least 80% of the Amazon deforestation. Not to mention the amount of fresh water required to process meat: 70% of global freshwater consumption. 2020 was the year everyone discovered plant-based in developed economies, where vegans represent 2% of the population and flexitarians-reducetarians are growing fast.

By the summer of 2020, the UK saw plant-based food sales grow by 243%, according to the Vegan Society, with consumers putting 14% more meat-free and dairy-free options in their shopping baskets. Forecasts from Research & Markets suggest that the plant-based food market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 11.9% from 2020 to 2027, and the next big development area for plant-based foods are fish/seafoods and pork alternatives.


Organic and Fairtrade sales have soared since the Covid-19 breakout, in line with ethical consumerism and circular economy trends, and the need for transparency in sourcing and processing. Increased eating at home trends, along with concerns about personal health and immunity, have strongly contributed to the category growth. Organic and Fairtrade labelling and sourcing growth responds to the consumers’ concern about the origin of raw materials and supply channels and is linked to an increased interest in regionality and local purchases. According to New Hope Network, “organic product appeal for millennials and Gen Z shoppers now extends beyond their families and into more than issues of food and farming. They also choose organic food for its human and animal welfare practices and for its sustainability and transparent supply chain stories”.