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American consumers changing grocery shopping habits due to environmental concerns

Washington, US, 30 Sep. 2022, 15:47 CEST
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New findings released today by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) show that people are increasingly changing their diets for environmental reasons as concerns over climate change grow. Following a summer of life-threatening heat waves, extreme storms, unprecedented flooding, and other weather events exacerbated by climate change, some shoppers are taking control of their impact on the environment through their food choices.

Conducted by independent insights consultancy GlobeScan for the MSC, the international not-for-profit responsible for the world's most widely used sustainable seafood ecolabel, the study1 found that 31% of global respondents who said they changed their diet in the past two years did so for a variety of environmental reasons. These include to eat more sustainably sourced food (17%), to reduce climate change impact (11%), and to protect the oceans (9%). These conscious consumers aim to shop for products that meet their personal environmental values, and a growing group of shoppers strive to be "climatarian"2 in their decision making. Californians reported the highest number of consumers reporting changing their diets for environmental reasons, at 40%, with Pacific Northwesterners not far behind at 39%.

In addition to the environmental worries causing consumers to change buying habits, rising food costs and overall inflation are new concerns
shaping purchasing decisions. In the US, the price of groceries is up 13.5% according to the Consumer Price Index3, with an up to 4% increase expected by December 2022 for food-at-home prices4. Increasingly, the challenge for conscious consumers is to stock the fridge and pantry with affordable meals that are also nutritious and environmentally friendly.

Seafood offers a healthy, planet-friendly protein, and a recent study reported that seafood harvesting produces less carbon than the production of meat. Wild-caught seafood was found to have a low carbon footprint due to the lack of land use or need for inputs (feed, water, etc.)[5]. Seafood can meet the desires of conscious consumers and climatarians with options in many aisles of the grocery store, and at every price point.

October is National Seafood Month, making this the time to share why sustainable, wild-caught seafood is the best option for climatarians and families seeking nutritious and affordable meal options. Many food retailers are promoting sustainable seafood during Seafood Month, so look for deals and sales throughout the month at your local grocery store. At the store, consumer go-to brands like Ducktrap River of Maine, Mrs. Paul's, Mowi and Van de Kamp's, among others, carry the MSC blue fish label. Ecolabels raise trust among shoppers in the brands that carry them according to the GlobeScan study, with 46% of people reporting that they have a high level of trust in MSC claims. When shoppers see the MSC blue fish label on seafood products, it means that extensive legwork by independent third-party auditors against the MSC standards has already been done, with final checks and assurances by the MSC before the logo is placed on a product. The MSC gets to the bottom of where your seafood comes from and how it was harvested, so seeing the blue fish label means consumers can check "ocean-friendly" off the list of concerns.

Nicole Condon, US program director for the Marine Stewardship Council said, "Today's consumers are challenged by what may seem like competing priorities - shopping to decrease impact on the environment, purchasing healthy options and staying on budget. As we head into October Seafood Month, it's important for shoppers to know that these purchase drivers don't have to be at odds. Look for the MSC blue fish logo on seafood products at a variety of price points to know that the seafood was caught in an environmentally sustainable way. We hope the MSC blue fish label can be an integral part of the climatarian diet – a simple but credible solution to finding seafood that is certified sustainable."