Steps for food, grocery industry to drive behavioural change in shoppers

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A series of practical steps have been released for the food and grocery industry to encourage and facilitate behavioural change after a report identified a big appetite from consumers to be healthier and more sustainable in their food choices.

The ‘Appetite for Change’ report from IGD found that that 66% of consumers are already changing their diets or are considering making changes to be healthier and more sustainable. However, consumers are also confused, with most overestimating how healthy and sustainable their diet is.

Working with behavioural change experts, stakeholders from across retail, manufacturing, catering providers, government and academia and drawing on data from 1,000 UK consumers, the research found that while many understand the principles of a balanced diet, the reality of what they eat doesn’t reflect this, resulting in a gap between knowledge and action.

Consumer food diaries, completed as part of IGD’s research, show that the balance of food groups people consume were not aligned with public health recommendations set out in the national dietary guidelines, ‘The Eatwell Guide’.

“We produce, consume and waste more food than ever before and with the health of the nation and the future security of our environment at risk, how the food system currently operates and delivers requires a significant shift,” said IGD CEO Susan Barratt.

“While the Eatwell Guide provides a useful direction of travel for consumers, we are a long way from meeting this guidance.

“This new research focuses on consumer behaviour, as we believe the real opportunity comes from changing diets; if we work with our industry to empower and enable consumers, they will help drive the change required.

“Extensive studies have shown that education alone will not change behaviour, which is why we have collaborated with behaviour change experts and a wide range of stakeholders to understand how, together, we can advocate and support consumers on this journey.”

IGD has identified practical steps the food and grocery industry can take to encourage behaviour change for each of the different mindsets based around five core principles.

  1. Ease

Consumers are more likely to take smaller steps towards bigger change, for example adopting ‘meat-free Mondays’

  1. Signposting

Retailers need to use eye-catching signs to make the right choices easy and clearly highlight the benefits of healthy and sustainable products over any perceived negatives

  1. Placement

Positioning healthy and sustainable products in prime positions in-store, for example plant-based options next to meat options, will encourage shoppers to browse and experiment

  1. Product

Ensure healthy and sustainable options are appealing and inspiring, so that a plant-based meat alternative becomes an easy switch, offering convenience and familiarity

  1. Influence

Consumers are looking for inspiring ideas, using recipe cards and online influencers will help motivate and inspire