FFA2019 post-event blog 8:

The next generation of consumers

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2019

The panellists identified reliable and trustworthy information to consumers on the value of food and need to prevent it being wasted as essential ingredients to create a public that are well-informed about the impact of their eating habits on their own and the planet’s health.

Mette Lykke, CEO, Too Good To Go, explained how the Copenhagen-based company with local offices across Europe, has so far prevented 12 million meals being binned. Their free app connects consumers to supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants with discounted surplus food they can buy at closing time.

“We have basically built a marketplace for food that would otherwise go to waste,” she explained. The company helps businesses to think differently, gives consumers tips for changes in their daily lives, educates schools and young people and presses for legislative action where necessary. Already present in ten European countries, it is moving into others during the year.

Stefan Goethaert, Managing Director, Colruypt Group Fine Food & Retail Services, pointed out that their group tries to avoid food waste in the first place and has reduced this to just 3%. He emphasised the need for overall macro balance between supply and demand and pointed to practical micro initiatives such as a popular workshop the group organises on cooking with leftovers.

Rob Hamer, Vice President Agrifood External Affairs, Unilever spoke of the need to increase awareness of the importance of food and to add the value it deserves. That could pave the way for consumer acceptance of fair prices and no wastage. “I think the world really has to reset the system to such an extent that we don’t waste food and we use 100% of every agricultural crop.”

A key message was to inform people to enable them to make considered and optimal choices to achieve the right balance between their diet, lifestyle and lifestage for themselves and the environment. “We believe a healthy consumer parallels a healthy planet,” he said, adding that “the future consumer will basically be working with us rather than being the receiver of what we produce”.

Mr Goethaert noted that consumers take an average of just four seconds to process available information before making a purchase. That data can be provided on the product or on line. “We need to come up with some tools that make it easy, but it is not going to be perfect,” he acknowledged. Other suggestions to raise consumer awareness included use of recipe sites and standard portion sizes.

Looking ahead, Ms Lykke applauded the current youth concern with climate change, but emphasised the need to highlight the link between global warming and food waste which is responsible for 8% of all greenhouse gases. Mr Goethaert said other factors, such as concern for animal welfare and societal impact, had also to be taken into account. Mr Hamer stressed the need for young people to value food much more than they now do and to realise food choices can be good for the planet.

The three panellists had a positive, upbeat view of the next generation of consumers. They are going to “demand a lot more sustainable solutions” (Ms Lykke), “be a lot more savvy and better informed than we are today” (Mr Goethaert), “choose with the planet in mind” (Mr Hamer).

Watch videos of all the sessions at FFA2019 here >

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