Cost is key concern for half of Brits in eco-friendly food purchasing

Margarine (Photo: iStock)

Nearly a quarter of the UK (23%) want to make positive environmental changes to their food shop regardless of the cost, a recent survey has revealed.

However, half (50%) say they would make environmentally friendly food purchasing decisions, if it meant they did not have to spend more, according to the survey by Upfield, leading producer of plantmargarines and spreads.

“Environmental issues are of increasing concern across the UK, and rightly so. With Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries and the recent release of programmes such as Seaspiracy, more and more people are becoming aware of the impact of their purchasing behaviours, and the impact that the food they eat has on the environment,” commented Damian Guha, general manager of Upfield UK & Ireland.

London flies the flag as the most environmentally conscious place in the UK when making a change to purchasing decisions, with a third (31%) of Londoners keen to make positive, environmentally friendly changes to their food shopping purchases, regardless of cost. This is the highest percentage of any area in the UK.

The North West is the least conscious, with just one in five (20%) of residents interested in making environmentally friendly shopping decisions, regardless of the cost.

The survey has also confirmed that old habits die hard when it comes to dairy butter, as 21.9 million (79%) households in the UK purchase the product.

Only one on ten actively purchase margarine to benefit the environment, where margarines tend to be less damaging than dairy butter.

Compared to the number of people looking to make more environmentally friendly changes irrelevant of price (23%), this significantly lower figure, points to a lack of awareness around the positive carbon footprint and sustainability attributes of margarine versus dairy butter.

Confirming this, almost half of the UK population (45%) said they would buy margarine instead of dairy butter if they knew it was better for the environment.

Upfield added that margarine is a good alternative to dairy butter especially for the value conscious shoppers as the impact of the pandemic continues to have a knock on effect on people’s purse strings.

In 2018, a Quantis Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study confirmed that in the UK, Upfield’s plant-based margarines and spreads have a 70 per cent lower climate impact, occupy 58 per cent less land, and use a third less water, than the production of the same amount of dairy butter.

If one of those 21.9 million households switched from dairy butter to a plant-based margarine for just a year, it could save 100 kg of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of driving a car for 250 miles.

The good news is that when they were told about the benefits of switching from dairy butter to margarine, 52% of respondents said they would consider changing their purchasing habits, and a further 29% said that they could move to margarine.

“We are proud to have put sustainable business practices at the heart of the spreads Upfield produces. It’s why we’ve made commitments such as introducing on-pack carbon labelling to 100 million packs of our products, globally, and why we’ve put rigorous process in place to ensure our product recipes and ingredient sourcing decisions are made with the environment in mind – balancing sustainability impact with providing the best possible taste, versatility and value for consumers,” Guha said.