7 Retailer Lessons on How to Support the Shift Toward More Sustainable Food Consumption

With increasing awareness and understanding regarding the consumer intention-action gap, how can retailers contribute to bridging it and support the shift toward more sustainable food consumption? The VALUMICS report ‘Behaviour change interventions for more sustainable food consumption’ assembles learnings from three practical behavioural interventions at the retail level.

Sustainable food consumption can be tricky. Many people state their intention to consume more sustainably and yet don’t manage to materialise it into actual consumption behaviour. This VALUMICS report summarises the factors that could contribute to closing the intention-action gap by laying out drivers and motivations, but also pointing out barriers and obstacles.

Bridging the intention-action gap is a complex process that requires the involvement of different actors in the food system. Retailers are of particular importance considering that the retail sector is where consumers make their day-to-day food consumption choices. Accordingly, inspired by the opportunity of creating positive impact and exploring pathways for change, REWE International conducted three behavioural intervention case studies in their food retail stores. The case studies focused on three aspects:

  • the retailer’s fruit and vegetable certification and supplier social standards
  • the introduction of recyclable glass milk bottles
  • greening store designs

The VALUMICS report Behaviour change interventions for more sustainable food consumption reflects on these behavioural interventions and summarises the key results. For example, a major lesson from the (re)introduction of recyclable glass milk bottles is the significance of cooperation with other stakeholders. This makes it possible to disrupt the ‘business as usual’ and take steps toward a consumer-focused ‘trial and error’ approach for reviving or initiating sustainable alternatives. This case study was carried out in collaboration with Berglandmilch eGen and Greenpeace.

This report is the third in a series of VALUMICS publications focusing on food consumption analysis. The first report brings together information about the determinants that influence or drive European food consumption patterns, while the second report looks into behavioural evidence that supports the shift towards more sustainable and healthy dietary patterns. The fourth report will provide recommendations to multi-stakeholder initiatives to make sustainable food consumption a reality.

To find more about these behavioural interventions, please read the full report here.

For further questions, please contact Cristina Fedato.