Sustainability Goes Mainstream

Nearly 9 in 10 shoppers understand sustainability but need more guidance when it comes to taking action


Affinity Group, a North American-based team of professionals focused on providing the food retail industry with sales support, planning and strategy, announced the results of its latest thought leadership series survey, which focused on sustainability in the retail channel. To no surprise, the survey found that sustainability is no longer a niche or progressive-only concern. Shoppers of all ages, education and income levels are aware of, and have concern for, sustainability. In fact, not only are shoppers aware of sustainability, 82% believe sustainability is important and want to take action.

The survey also reveals that no major retailer stands out to shoppers for its sustainability efforts and only one in four (25%) shoppers believe retailers are making real efforts toward adopting sustainability practices. The survey reveals the opportunity awaiting retailers to guide shoppers to more sustainable options, but first and foremost for retailers to make those options available.

“At Affinity Group, we provide the food industry with the knowledge and support each company needs to be successful.” Said Enzo Dentico, Chief Executive Officer at Affinity Group Sales & Marketing Agency. “The recent survey results show us where the sustainability gaps still are in the industry and where we need to focus our education and guidance efforts with our clients, so we can start surfacing sustainability leaders in the industry.”

Bringing Sustainability to the Forefront at Retail

The survey brings to life the opportunity around sustainability practices. In fact, products marketed as sustainable are driving one-third of the total market growth. Over the past four years, sustainable marketed products represent about 16% of sales but 32% of growth.

Although awareness has moved the interest in sustainability from niche shoppers to the more mainstream shopper, it seems there’s still room to create more action in the retail space. The survey shows shoppers will adopt sustainable habits that are easy and fit for their current lifestyles. Following are some of the shopping habits that seem to be most convenient.

  • 76% bring their own reusable shopping bag
  • 58% recycle used packaging
  • 44% shop at the closest store to reduce fuel consumption

Still there is so much more that can be done for sustainability efforts in the food retail space and retailers should know barriers. There are three key barriers to being sustainable: cost, availability and confusion. Affinity Group recommends that retailers overcome those barriers by:

1. Working with suppliers to offer more variety and lower prices for sustainable products.

2. Educating and communicating about the sustainable options available – and efforts being made – to create awareness, knowledge and trust.

3. Making sustainability an easy choice for people.

“Our goal is simple – we want to be the first call for our clients and customers when they need help growing their business. Our thought leadership surveys are one of the ways we lead discussions that impact our industry.” Said Bill Chiodo, President at Affinity Group Sales & Marketing Agency. “Our latest survey on sustainability offers insight into what consumers like and don’t like about current sustainable efforts and products made by our customers and clients. We’re excited to share the results from this survey and know it will help support future decisions our clients and those they service will have to make.”

The full survey results are available here:

About Affinity Group
Affinity Group’s experience in all aspects of the retail and foodservice industry make us the perfect partner to help our customers grow their brand and drive results for their business. Our talented team of sales pros have the in-depth knowledge today’s culinary brands need to make sure they stay connected to a community of resources and relationships.