Phil Lempert on Shopping for Sustainability

Phil Lempert is a television and radio news reporter, newspaper columnist, author, consumerologist, and food marketing expert. For more than 25 years, Lempert, an expert analyst on consumer behavior, marketing trends, new products, and the changing retail landscape, has identified and explained impending trends to consumers and some of the most prestigious companies worldwide. Known as The Supermarket Guru®, Lempert is a distinguished author and speaker who alerts customers and business leaders to impending corporate and consumer trends, and empowers them to make educated purchasing and marketing decisions.

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According to SPINS, sustainability has become a purchase driver for shoppers—from chocolate treats to even pet food. Their analysis shows that choosing responsible product packaging and ingredient sourcing have joined recycling and energy conservation as ways shoppers are shifting behavior to align with their principles. Shoppers are now choosing organic products because the production practices, such as using less fertilizer and no chemical inputs, lead to better soil conditions and increased wildlife biodiversity. SPINS has seen sales increase in all channels for products labeled as 95-100% organic. That growth is happening across several departments. Looking at products label 95-100% organic:

  • Shelf-stable coffee and hot cocoa rose 25%.
  • Beer grew 20%.
  • Bread and baked goods increased 16%.
  • Produce rose 13%.

They also found that organic’s growth is highest in the regional independent grocery channel, which has seen a 21% increase in organic products. We know that the regional and independent retailers understand the pulse of shoppers in a way that big-box chains can’t – shopping during the pandemic is proof of that While organic beer is up 20% across all channels - it is up even higher at 55% within regional independent grocery SPINS tells us. Their insight is that regional’s mindful shoppers are ahead of the curve and could be giving us a preview of how mainstream shoppers will be choosing beers in the future. Plastic packaging that isn’t biodegradable or items that are individually wrapped have become deterrents for environmentally conscious consumers. Many manufacturers have switched to recycled plastic that extends the life of plastics beyond one use, and others are opting for biodegradable packaging. The trend stated well before the pandemic, but make no mistake, Covid-19 has created a new awareness of all things food.

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