For 74% of Italians, sustainability is a matter of lifestyle. This is one of the results of the survey Who’s afraid of bad food? Italians and sustainability, promoted by Bologna Award – Caab, Centro Agroalimentare (Food and Agriculture Centre) along with Fico Foundation, Enpam Foundation and Unitec, and created by Nomisma.
When it comes to food and grocery purchases, the first two concepts that Italians associate with the word sustainability are “protecting the environment” and “safeguarding health”.
According to research, Italians use and associate the term ‘sustainable’ with protecting the environment in four cases out of ten (39%) and safeguarding health in 23% of cases. After which there are those who associate it with biodiversity, those who associate food with tradition, with the economy, etc.
Sustainability is a term that Italians know and use more and more: 25% of Italians declare themselves to be very well-versed on the subject; 58% know it even if they don’t feel sufficiently informed on the subject and only 18% state entirely ignoring its meaning.
Sustainability issues are close to Italians’ hearts: if you add their fear of damaging the environment (13%) to their concern regarding the healthiness of food (10%), you obtain 23%, which is second only to concerns about employment/unemployment (31%), and prevails over the fear of terrorism (19%), immigration (14%) and the uncertain the political climate (7%).
But according to Italians, what characteristics must a food have to be considered sustainable? There are varying responses in the survey: 18% stated that sustainability equates to organic production, another 18% consider a food sustainable only if it has been purchased directly from the producer, while 15% consider it entirely related to packaging, which must be recyclable or biodegradable. Only 12% consider it fair compensation for the producer, 10% see it as the protection of labour rights and 7% define it as the low impact of water resources.
According to this survey, Italians have changed their purchasing behaviours and are now more aware and virtuous. Three out of four Italians (78%) say they choose goods based on the price/quality ratio, and only 32% claim to focus only on the lowest price when purchasing groceries. For 58% of consumers it is more important to pay attention to the quality of food than its ease of use (31%) and eco-friendly characteristics (39%). For 28% of Italians a key element is an organic label, while 55% put priority in buying food that they know won’t be wasted.
For 41% of consumers it is also important that the food be of Italian origin, and 39% put weight on the quality of a product’s raw materials. Lastly, 4% claim to be swayed by the caloric impact of food and only 5% are motivated by characteristics of the production process.