Author: Eva Hoogstins

The EIT Food Trust Report 2021

Less than half of European consumers trust the food system

Client:

Brief:

Since 2018, EIT Food has been studying the issue of consumer trust in the food system and the role of trust in adopting innovations. How motivated are Europeans to make healthy and sustainable food choices? To what extend, and under which conditions, are they open to food innovation and technology? 

Our approach:

We conducted three studies in the Citizen Participation Forum, the European online community. Together with participants from 18 different European countries (total of 232 participants) we discussed food innovation, sustainability issues in the food chain (e.g. excess packaging), and ways to improve trust in food authorities. 

We synthesized our findings together with the large quantitative study of 20,326 consumers (in the same 18 countries) that took place in 2021.

These findings and insights are presented in the annual Trust report of EIT Food. 

Findings in a nutshell:

76% of Europeans are motivated to live a sustainable life, however only 51% of Europeans take sustainability into account when making food choices.

Less than half of Europeans have confidence in the integrity of our food products, and the food chain actors that have earned the highest levels of trust in Europe are farmers. 

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Download the full report here:

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Why market research firms should care about sustainability

Why market research firms should care about sustainability 

The number of publications by market research agencies on the topic of sustainability spiked during the Glasgow COP26 Climate Change summit. But the trend I noticed goes beyond some well-planned media moments. Ipsos and Kantar, for example, have dedicated a large section of their website to sustainability. Why does the market research world suddenly seem preoccupied with making the world a better place?  

The reason market research firms should care about sustainability is that it will be one of the most important themes for marketers in the coming years. Every self-respecting brand will have to make clear choices about what its contribution to a better world is. Because consumers are demanding it. Or, better yet, because the brands themselves want it. But wherever the desire to become more sustainable comes from, a successful approach to sustainability is no easy task.  

More difficult 

Getting a sustainable message across is much more difficult than a “normal” marketing message. Because in reality, sustainable marketing means that you want to entice consumers into behaving in ways they don’t really want to. Think of giving up long far away holidays and they will only benefit from behaving sustainably in the long run and even then, their individual benefit is minimal. 

And at the same time, sustainable consumption is no longer something for the frontrunners. An increasingly large number of consumers would like to make more sustainable choices. But a large proportion of them do not succeed in doing so. Due to lack of knowledge, lack of supply or because they are repeatedly tempted to make the unsustainable choice. 

The big battle or the big opportunity 

How difficult sustainable marketing is can be read in the book ‘Het grote gevecht’ (The big battle) by Jeroen Smit about the struggle of Unilever CEO Paul Polman to make the multinational more sustainable. During his reign, Unilever’s impact on the planet has been reduced in many ways. But nowhere does it become clear how Unilever is able to convert all those sustainability initiatives into consumer preference. Even Unilever’s marketers, whom I hold in high regard, failed to do so. And as long as consumers don’t buy more of your more sustainable products, being sustainable costs (a lot of) money.  

But if you succeed in getting consumers to choose your more sustainable products over those of the competition, then sustainability is a way to earn money (and make the world better at the same time). In this context, think of dutch Chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely, which has turned an idealistic objective (‘slave -free chocolate) into its distinctive brand asset. And by doing so has become one of the largest chocolate brands in the Netherlands. 

Knowing how to entice consumers to make more sustainable choices is crucial if you want to be a sustainable brand. You need to understand their choice architecture and know their motivations and barriers. Only then can you successfully influence their choices. Crystal-clear consumer insight paves the way to a world in which we use scarce resources in a sustainable way. No wonder, then, that market research firms have discovered sustainability. 

More fun! 

And there’s another important reason. Working for clients who value their social goals over their finances is much more fun, interesting and worthwhile for researchers. So if you want to attract talented researchers, then as a research company you cannot escape making a choice about which clients you would rather work for and which you would rather not. After all, if you are a young talented graduate who gets to choose, would you rather work for a cigarette brand or would you rather work for a start-up with a societal impact goal? The agencies that offer their staff the chance to contribute to a better world will be able to attract the best people.  

Good for the world and the industry 

So I’m pleased to see that the market research community is embracing the theme of sustainability. Because this is good for the sector. And for the world, if we succeed in helping marketers achieve their sustainability goals. 

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Events & Conferences

Events & Conferences

We love to share knowledge. In the past, we have been invited to speak at:

Future of Food Conference 2021, by EIT Food where we talked about how we can tackle food dis- and misinformation.
Download the report of the event here:

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Beeckestijn Business School where we talked about sustainable marketing and how to encourage the consumer to make the sustainable choice.

MVO Nederland where we showed how to innovate in a consumer-centric way.

Marketing Minds where we explained the importance over crystal clear insights for sustainable companies

Would you like us to speak at your event? Get in touch to discuss the possibilities!

  • Strategy & Positioning

  • Innovation

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Our curated trends and innovations database

Our curated trends and innovations database

We continuously expand our very own database of food and sustainability trends.

Stay up to date with the latest developments in marketing & advertising, tech, policy, and consumer insights in the food and sustainability sector. 

On a weekly basis we comb through the latest market research, press releases, whitepapers as well as peer-reviewed scientific research so that you don’t have to.

Our database is an excellent starting point for inspiration and as a starting point for product and campaign development. Why re-invent the wheel if somewhere it has already been invented?  

You can have a glimpse in our collection of curated news by subscribing to our monthly newsletter.

  • Literature & Media Review

  • Innovation

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Future of Food Report 2022

Future of Food Report 2022

Client:

Own initiative

Brief:

Knowing how consumers think and feel about sustainable food and how this translates into actual behaviour is crucial. We believe it’s necessary to identify trends and measure changes over time. This way we know the influence of fundamental changes in the thinking and acting of the consumer.

In May 2019 we published our first Future of Food report, describing the state of affairs among Dutch consumers. We will publish the second edition in spring 2022.

We believe it is important to repeat the study. In 2,5 years a lot has changed. Climate change has gotten a lot of attention in politics. And obviously a pandemic has hit the world, impacting food choices and shopping behaviour. Time to get up to date!

Why?

  • Measuring = knowing: if you want to be relevant in terms of sustainability, you have to know what is happening in this area in the minds and hearts of the consumer.
  • Insight into buying motives and barriers so that you can respond to these motives and remove the barriers
  • Indispensable inspiration for new products and communication angles

This ensures more effective and efficient marketing, product development and sales of sustainable consumer products. In this way we accelerate the food transition.

Questions the study will answer:

  • Which brands are relevant and which are not?
  • What about ‘climate fatigue’?
  • What is the impact of all the media attention for the climate on consumption behaviour?
  • Which consumer segment(s) are most open to food sustainability?
  • What does the consumer understand by sustainability (ecological, social, health) and which form is most relevant?

The report provides a clear answer to many questions that sustainable food marketers are struggling with. For instance:

  • Choosing the right target group for product development and communication. Where are the opportunities for (incremental) growth?
  • Which triggers encourage behavioural change?
  • How do we effectively convey a sustainable message and what values ​​will help me?

We offer half-day workshops with marketing and insights teams. In these workshops we give meaning to the results – what does this mean for us? –, opportunities, scouting and action planning – what are we going to do differently now?

  • Quantitative Research

  • Qualitative Research

  • Strategy & Positioning

  • Innovation

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Future of Food Report 2019

Future of Food Report 2019:
Understanding and measuring sustainable food consumption in the Netherlands

Client:

Own initiative

Brief:

What is the state of play when it comes to sustainable food consumption in The Netherlands, looking at it from a consumer’s perspective? How many consumers take sustainability into account when making food decisions? What do they consider to be sustainable food choices?

Our approach:

We designed a questionnaire which among other things included a mini communication experiment: participants were shown three different messages about organic food production. They were then asked about their attitudes and willingness to pay a 10% or 20% mark-up for organic versus ‘regular’ foods. We also shared our pre-existing knowledge about perception of organic food from the Food Forum, our conscious consumer community.

Findings in a nutshell:

  1. Consumers are not entirely clear on what is sustainable food.
  2. Reduction of food waste is having a big moment.
  3. There are four distinct segments of consumers who perceive sustainable food in a completely different way.
  4. Concrete arguments focused on the direct advantage for consumers are most effective.
  5. There is little support for technological agricultural innovation.

Download a snapshot of the report here:

[cloud-download]

Would you like to access the full report? 
Get in touch!

  • Quantitative Research

  • Strategy & Positioning

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Nudging for more fruits and vegetables

Nudging for more fruits and vegetables

Client:

Nationaal Actieplan Groenten en Fruit (NAGF), Dutch Association for Fruits and Vegetables. This project was done in collaboration with Food Cabinet and Hoogvliet.

Brief:

NAGF is a coalition of government, business and non-profit organizations whose goal is to stimulate the consumption of fruit and vegetables in the Netherlands.

NAGF wanted to experiment with nudges in a Dutch supermarket. The project aimed to study the effectiveness of applying nudges with the goal of stimulating the sale of fruits and vegetables. The effect of the nudges was measured through the sales volumes of fruits and vegetables.

Our approach:

For the period of a month we set up Hoogvliet’s online environment (website and the app) with different nudges to stimulate fruit and vegetable sales. These nudges were developed using insights from scientific research. The online shoppers in the research period were divided into two groups: the intervention group was shown the nudges and the control group ended up in the ‘regular’ environment.

Findings in a nutshell:

In total, the nudging group bought 7% more vegetables and 6% more fruit than the control group, measured by volume and per piece. Interestingly, the number of different kinds of vegetables purchased increased by 7% as well.

The nudging was only effective for shoppers who already had some vegetables or fruit in their baskets, and so did not increase the number of shoppers who bought fruits and vegetables. The most effective nudge was the add-to-cart suggestion, particularly with relevant combinations (e.g. adding kiwi to a basket containing yoghurt)

Picked up by media:

Download the full report here:

[cloud-download]

  • Field Studies & Experiments

  • Strategy & Positioning

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Designing a new dish for Amsterdam

What does Amsterdam eat?

Client:

Van Amsterdamse Bodem (VAB), an initiative of De Gezonde Stad

Brief:

The aim of this study was to find out what residents of Amsterdam eat, or do not eat. Based on the findings, popular chef Vanja van der Leeden designed a sustainable, delicious meal, to represent the ‘Flavour of Amsterdam’.

Our approach:

In collaboration with VAB we designed a questionnaire with the goal of learning about Amsterdam’s eating habits: which cuisine is most popular? What is the most popular herb or spice? Do they tend to eat salty, sweet, or healthy snacks?

The study was conducted by means of an online questionnaire. Participants were recruited from various sources, such as social media, online advertisements and a consumer panel. Participants were representative of the population of Amsterdam by age, gender and district.

Findings in a nutshell:

More than half of Amsterdam residents have specific dietary requirements. The biggest group identifies itself as flexitarian (30%), followed by vegetarian (12%) and vegan (8%). Italian is the preferred cuisine of young Amsterdam residents, while Indonesian is very popular among older generations. Indonesian food is particularly popular as a festive meal, while variations of pasta are a weekly favourite.

Broccoli and mushrooms were most often named the favourite vegetable, while steak, lobster, and sushi, were most often named as “the most delicious dish ever eaten”. When it comes to having a drink with dinner most Amsterdam residents opt for water (flat or carbonated).

Picked up by media:

  • Quantitative Research

  • Innovation

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Assessing the impact of FoodUnfolded

Assessing the impact of FoodUnfolded

Client:

FoodUnfolded®, powered by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Food.

Brief:

FoodUnfolded® (FUN) is a global digital platform designed to reconnect people with their food and empower them to change our food system for the better.

They wanted to know how they can optimize the relevance and impact of their communication, particularly when being confronted with popular media sources that convey a message that is different from the message FUN wants to deliver. In this case the popular Netflix documentary Seaspiracy.

Our approach:

With the help of our Citizen Participation Forum, the European community of conscious consumers, we evaluated the messaging and persuasiveness of FUN. We conducted a case study using some of their more recent communication materials on fisheries and sustainability.

We ran a quasi-experimental design with participants being exposed to FUN’s materials and Seaspiracy, a popular Netflix documentary. We used questionnaires to measure the appeal and persuasiveness of the materials, as well as forum discussions in which participants elaborated on their opinion and discussed among each other. Participants’ attitudes towards fisheries and eating seafood were measured before and after exposure to each of the materials.

Findings in a nutshell:

We found that the order in which participants watched Seaspiracy or Food Unfolded played a large role in forming participants’ attitudes. Viewing the FUN materials after Seaspiracy appears to have a neutralizing effect. In other words, FUN is effective in balancing out the pessimistic attitudes formed after watching Seaspiracy when it comes to the big picture of eating fish and sustainability. This effect was smaller when participants viewed the FUN materials before watching Seaspiracy. Food Unfolded was effective in balancing out the pessimistic attitudes formed after watching Seaspiracy when it comes to the big picture of eating fish and sustainability.

We recommended that Food Unfolded regards popular (albeit simplistic) publications and media such as Seaspiracy not as information that needs to be rectified, but rather built-upon. Food Unfolded should take full advantage of issues that are brought to the public’s attention through mainstream sources and bring nuance to the conversation.

We presented our findings at the EIT Future of Food Event 2021.

  • Online community

  • Branding & Communication

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Testing out a new, sustainable food box

Testing out a new, sustainable food box

Client:

Brief:

The ReduceBox is a food box delivered to your doorstep that not only lets you explore sustainable food products, but also helps you to eat in a more sustainable way. It includes a booklet that poses two challenges for one week: Wasting less food and eating less meat.

Product owner Thomas wanted to know: what is the potential of this concept? Does it work and how can we improve it to even better meet the needs and desires of the target group?

Our approach:

We conducted a small-scale concept test in the Food Forum, our conscious consumer community. First, we shared a questionnaire that presented the concept to the community members and asked them for feedback.

Consequently, a number of interested participants were sent a box to test. During their try-out week, the participants could also communicate about their experience in a dedicated group in the community.

After one week, we conducted interviews with the participants to more deeply understand what they thought about the whole experience; what they enjoyed the most and which barriers they faced.

Feedback on our work:

“I partnered up with the Future of Food Institute to test the ReduceBox with real consumers. The Food Forum was the perfect place to test the concept. All in all, the experience was fun and taught me a lot. Apparently, there are quite some people who like to explore vegetarian food and a sustainable lifestyle. But sometimes they have to be nudged to try out something new. I am confident that we at Goodcase can play that part.”
Thomas Dolleschel, Product owner

  • Online Community

  • Innovation

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We help sustainable food companies to innovate faster and communicate with more impact. We do this by offering accessible and crystal clear consumer insights

We love working with mission-driven food companies and non-profits that have a positive impact on society and our planet. Together we empower consumers to make food choices that are good for them as well as for the planet.

The Hague Tech - Wilhelmina van Pruisenweg 35 - 2595AN - The Hague - The Netherlands. 

Info@futureoffood.institute