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Price and taste win out over environmental impact when it comes to food: Survey

Sodexo Canada releases its first Sustainable Food Barometer survey
Jillian Morgan, female, digital editor for Canadian Grocer
Eighty seven per cent of Canadians believe adopting more sustainable behaviours is an urgent matter.

Financial concerns and entrenched eating habits are making it difficult for Canadians to eat more sustainably.

Sodexo Canada’s first Sustainable Food Barometer survey, conducted by Leger, identifies trends around Canadians’ eating habits, and the gap between intention and actions when it comes to living sustainably.  

Eighty seven per cent of Canadians believe adopting more sustainable behaviours is an urgent matter, with recognition of urgency highest in those aged 18 to 24.

The majority of Canadians say they have already adopted some sustainable food habits, such as reducing household food waste (75%), eating seasonal produce (68%) and buying local produce (56%). 

Eighty six per cent have reduced their consumption of processed foods, and 82% are avoiding plastic packaging by choosing bulk foods or reusable bags. Seventy nine per cent consume sustainably produced products whenever possible. 

READ: Canadians' food habits change amid climate concerns: Survey

However, when shopping for groceries, 91% say price is the most important factor, followed by taste (72%) and nutritional value (67%). The product’s environmental impact was ranked least important at 21%.

Three quarters (74%) of Canadians say they don’t have the desire, intention or don’t know if they would give up meat. Sixty seven per cent don’t want to give up fish and over half (54%) say the same about dairy. 

Forty six per cent say they’re willing to reduce their consumption of animal proteins in favour of plant proteins, and 46% say the same for dairy products. 

The primary motivation for eating more sustainably in Canada is the expected health benefits (52%), followed by the expected financial savings (49%).

READ: Canadians struggle to connect food production with their environmental concerns

Canadians are more likely to be persuaded by the desire to contribute to Canada’s food autonomy (29%), and to role model for future generations (22%, than they are by changes to law or imposed regulations (13%).

“Sodexo Canada is committed to reducing our environmental impact through offering more sustainable food choices, and sourcing, preparing and serving them in more enjoyable and sustainable ways,” said Sodexo Canada CEO Johanne Bélanger in a statement. “We encourage Canadians to join us for the health benefits and cost savings, as well as the ultimate benefit of limiting climate change.”

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