Sustainability is more important to Northern Irish consumers thanks to pandemic

A new survey of consumers in Northern Ireland has revealed how the pandemic has had a positive impact on consumers’ interest in sustainability.

Commissioned by Too Good To Go, the surplus food app, the survey has found that while over three quarters (76.8%) of Northern Irish consumers say sustainability matters to them, almost half (54.1%) said that sustainability had become more important to them over the last year.

According to the survey, food and drink is the sector where sustainability most matters to NI consumers, with 77.6% of respondents saying they consider sustainability when purchasing from food and drink businesses.

This is followed by the fashion and beauty/cosmetics industries, with 58.3% and 55.8% of respondents saying they consider sustainability when buying in these sectors respectively. 

The survey also demonstrated how sustainability is an important factor for businesses to consider if they want to continue attracting new customers; two thirds (66.5%) of shoppers in Northern Ireland said they would purchase from a business they haven’t done before if they found out they had a focus on sustainability. 

Northern Irish consumers are overwhelmingly against food waste too, with almost nine in ten (88.1%) of those surveyed saying their local businesses should not be throwing away surplus food.

When asked why, the majority of respondents (88.3%) cited the many people going hungry in society, followed by the huge waste of resources (63.2% selected this reason). Food waste’s impact on the environment is less well-known, with less than half (42%) of respondents choosing this reason for reducing food waste, suggesting there is more to be done to highlight the link between food waste and the climate crisis.

Nonetheless, the survey found that Belfast consumers are increasingly open to addressing the issue of food waste moving forward. Almost two thirds (60.8%) of respondents said they would consider using a surplus food app in the future. 

Paschalis Loucaides, UK Managing Director, Too Good To Go, said: “The results of this survey are an incredibly positive sign for the future of our planet. It’s great to see Northern Irish consumers considering the sustainability of their purchasing decisions and holding businesses to account. However it is concerning that many consumers aren’t aware of how our food waste is contributing to climate change. If we’re to reverse the impact of climate change, reducing food waste is one of the most important things that we can do. In the UK alone we’re wasting 10 million tonnes of food each year and globally, our food waste is contributing more harmful greenhouse gas emissions than the aviation industry. That’s why it’s critical that reducing food waste continues to be a priority moving forwards in order to pave the way for a brighter, greener, future.” 

Too Good To Go lets people buy surplus food and drink from pubs, restaurants, retailers and producers to stop it from going to waste. Consumers simply download the free Too Good To Go app and search for nearby businesses with unsold produce. They then purchase a ‘Magic Bag’, collect it at an allotted time and enjoy it. 

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