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Report: Sustainability Ranks High On Consumers’ Shopping Lists

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According to a new report released by the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council of North America, 69 percent of supermarket shoppers try to reduce their impact on the environment as much as possible. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainability has remained at the forefront of Americans’ concerns.  

The study, conducted in partnership with Murphy Research and titled “Sustainability and Food Retailing: A Practical Guide to Incorporating Sustainability and Supporting the Community During COVID-19 and Beyond,” also shows that the pandemic put the supermarket back at the center of the community. Consumers are much more appreciative of food retail employees, and they are looking to local stores to demonstrate social and environmental leadership. 

“With consumers increasingly considering and acting on sustainability issues when it comes to patronage and purchases, now is the time for supermarkets to actively examine the opportunities and challenges facing the industry, to best align with these growing consumer feelings,” said Michael Sansolo, research director of CCRRC North America. “Shoppers want local supermarkets to help them practice sustainability, and not doing so could mean losing shoppers down the road.” 

The study found that 60 percent of consumers believe food retailers should help their employees and local community in addition to making a profit. Consumers say they will pay 4 percent more at a food retailer that supports their community and the environment, and they will drive 6.5-10.9 minutes farther to a store with a stronger impact. 

The most popular initiatives consumers say they would like retailers to embrace are:  

  1. Providing on-site recycling bins  
  2. Labeling products that are locally made/grown  
  3. Offering points/prizes for waste saved through purchases and/or recycling  
  4. Providing biodegradable bags for produce  
  5. Selling products in a wider variety of sizes to help limit food waste  

Incorporating sustainability practices and policies into stores will be evermore important in connecting with the future consumer. Gen Z is passionate about the environment more so than any other generation, with 56 percent considering environmental sustainability at least most of the time when shopping. 

“The supermarket industry should view these findings as an opportunity to lead in an inevitable and important space,” said CCRRC Chairman John Ross, CEO of IGA Inc. “Shoppers care about sustainability issues and expect the retailers they visit to share and act on this sentiment. And, ultimately, doing what’s right is going to be good for the bottom line.” 

The report includes a short quiz to help food retailers determine initiatives that will most resonate with their consumer base. The full report is available to download for free at CCRRC.org.   

Since its founding in 1978, all reports by Atlanta-based CCRRC have been conducted “by retailers, for retailers” and offered for free. CCRRC has produced more than 60 studies on topics ranging from growth strategies to industry trends and more. CCRRC currently consists of two councils: the North America Large Store Council and the North America NACS Council. 

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