French consumers are returning to some of their pre-Covid habits, but their responsible shopping cart (local, fair, organic, zero waste) is resisting, and even progressing in 2021. The expectations for the food service industry are very high since 81% of French consumers expect a responsible approach from restaurants, especially from school canteens.
In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic caused significant disruptions in the daily food habits of French consumers. The aspirations and consumption habits analyzed by the Max Havelaar/Opinion Way barometer over the past 3 years have been shaken to the point of envisaging the future of food consumption: more local, fair, organic, zero waste. After the successive lockdowns, a trend is observed of safe consumption with the purchase of low-cost products due to the economic uncertainty, or the preference for packaged or disposable products for sanitary reasons.
Max Havelaar France has published the results of the 3rd edition of its annual barometer of the food transition:
• Sales of responsible food products are resisting despite the crisis, and even progressing! 90% of French consumers buy this type of products at least once a month and 66% at least once a week.
• The reasons for consuming responsibly are diversifying: although prices remain the first brake for the purchase of responsible products, the first motivation is, this year again, the fact that it allows for a fair remuneration of the producers. But other motivations for responsible consumption are emerging and establishing themselves in the practices: traceability, transparency, taste, aspiration to “eat better”.
• But the novelty this year are the high expectations from consumers regarding the food service industry in general. 81% expect restaurants to include responsible food products on their menu. Developing this type of offer is expected to be a priority (+60%) in school canteens and university restaurants. As for the consumers’ motivations, the 2021 Barometer indicates rather consistent reasons for buying responsibly:
first, the desire to allow producers to get a fair remuneration (39%, -3pts vs. 2020, -7pts vs. 2019); the growing demand for transparency and traceability, “knowing where the products come from” (39%, +2pts vs 2020, +4pts since 2019); “the guarantee to have products of better quality” by choosing local, organic and fair trade products (32%, +1pt vs. 2020); the search for taste (+2pts vs. 2020) and the desire to preserve our health (+2pts vs. 2020).
“The food sector is a priority for eco-responsible French consumers. They know that agriculture is a powerful lever of sustainable development and that this sector must set an example by protecting its farmers and the planet better. 61% think more needs to be done on the social level, and 60% on the environmental level. Good news for food companies: they have regained the trust of French consumers following the health crisis. An overwhelming majority (88%, -2pts vs. 2020) still thinks that they should offer more responsible products and that their progress is too slow (82%, +2pts), but these opinions have been slowly decreasing since 2019 (-3 and -4 pts respectively),” explains Blaise Desbordes, general director of Max Havelaar France.
Regarding responsible consumption in the food service industry, 81% of the French expect restaurants to incorporate responsible food products into their menus. When they eat out, they expect:
• to be offered local food products (86%),
• to be informed about the origin and quality of the products (79%),
• to be guaranteed that the producers of the food offered on the menu are remunerated fairly (77%).
“Consumer expectations are massively in favor of local, fair, organic, zero-waste food in schools and universities. It is a major issue that local authorities can use to meet the aspirations of French consumers. We can already count nearly 2,000 fair trade cities and regions in the world,” explains Blaise Desbordes, general director of Max Havelaar France.
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