Sustainable Food Monitor 2021: the share of sustainable food purchases has increased

Consumers spent 9.5 billion euros on sustainable food in 2021. We spend more and more money on products with quality labels such as Better Life, Organic and Rainforest Alliance. This is evident from the Sustainable Food Monitor 2021, carried out by Wageningen University & Research on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. The monitor looks at consumer spending on products with a sustainability label through three sales channels: supermarkets, food services such as hospitality and catering, and specialty stores for sustainable food. The measured quality marks are ASC, Organic, Better Life, Fairtrade, MSC, On the way to PlanetProof (SMK), Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified and Vrije Uitloop.

The share of expenditure on food with a quality label is increasing

The share of sustainable food in total food expenditure has increased from 17% to 19%. There is a greater supply and demand for these products. The costs of products with a quality label have increased in almost all product groups. Total expenditure on sustainable food will increase by 12% in 2021 compared to 2020. This increase is particularly visible in supermarkets. The total expenditure on all types of food, including products without the measured quality marks, will have increased by 1% in 2021. Due to the restrictive corona measures in, for example, the hotel and restaurant industry, the expenditure there, as in 2020, is lower than in previous years .

Costs of buying channel

  • The food services such as hospitality, catering and healthcare institutions have shown some improvement in food sales in 2021. Spending on sustainable food there increased by 6%, total spending on all types of food by 8%. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, food service costs in 2021 will still be lower than in the years before the corona pandemic.
  • Supermarkets showed an increase in purchases of sustainable food, namely by 14%. As a result, supermarkets contribute the most to the increase in total sustainable consumption. Total consumption of all types of food in supermarkets will be relatively high in 2021 as in 2020, despite a slight decrease of 1% in 2021. This is a result of COVID-19 restrictions in food service in the second corona year.
  • Sustainable food specialty stores have seen a 2% increase in spending. These are shops that mainly sell food of biological and biodynamic origin.

Costs for labels

The largest percentage increase in consumption in all measured sales channels can be seen for products with the quality brands Rainforest Alliance (+110%) and On the way to PlanetProof (+32%). The increase in the costs of products with Rainforest Alliance seal of approval partly connected with the amalgamation of Rainforest Alliance of UTZ certified. After this, a new standard was developed under the name Rainforest Alliance with new logo design. The growth of On the way to PlanetProof This is primarily due to the further upscaling in the supermarket channel. For products with the quality label Better Life consumers spent the most, approx. € 3.2 billion, followed by organic, €1.6 billion The Rainforest Alliance is following suit with € 1.3 billion.

Almost all product groups are purchased more sustainably than in 2020

More sustainable purchases were made in almost all product groups than last year.

  • Meat and meat products (EUR 2.2 billion, +3% compared to 2020), non-perishable products, compound meals and other (EUR 1.6 billion, +27%) and dairy products (EUR 1.2 billion) , + 12%) were product groups with the largest share of consumer spending on sustainable food in 2021.
  • Beverages were a product group with the largest increase in revenue for sustainable food in 2021 (+36%). The increase is due to the emergence of quality brands such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and Organic in this product group, especially for juices.
  • Non-perishable products, compound meals and other (+338 million euros) and Potatoes, vegetables and fruit (+201 million euros) were the product groups with the largest absolute increase in the period 2020-2021.
  • Eggs and food, unspecified, show a decrease of 3% and 4% respectively in spending on products with a sustainability label. In Eggs, spending on all types of eggs fell by 4%. Some of the free-range eggs could not be sold under a quality label in 2021 due to bird flu.

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