The latest eye-opening sustainability study from Asia Pulp and Paper revealed that a growing number of Canadians are willing to pay more for food if it helps the environment. The annual survey found that over half of consumers (56%) said they would be willing to pay a higher price for fast-food products packaged in sustainable materials, with 37% saying they would be open to paying up to 10% more. Nearly half (48%) of Canadians surveyed considered a company’s sustainability values as important when selecting a fast-food restaurant. And, when it comes to fast-food packaging, 59% of consumers rated sustainability as an important factor, roughly on par with compostable/biodegradable (62%) and size (58%). The survey also found that a growing number of Canadians (71%) are placing a higher importance on sustainable food packaging than they did 5 years ago. The sustainability survey was taken from a sample of 1,003 Canadian adults using Engine’s Online Caravan International Omnibus Survey. Online interviews took place from August 17 to August 22, 2018. Data was statistically weighted by age, gender and geographic region to ensure a reliable and accurate representation of the Canadian population, 18 years of age and older.
“We’ve come a long way from paper being the enemy,” said Ian Lifshitz, APP Sustainability Director for the Americas. “This research shows that if brands invest in raising awareness with consumers, and promote their commitment to the environment, they’ll be rewarded by Canadians.” The vast majority of Canadians (85%) cite at least one obstacle that prevents them from properly disposing of food packaging and waste that can be recycled or composted. The top three obstacles are packaging that’s not clearly marked as recyclable/compostable (47%), followed by a lack of proper receptacles in restaurants (40%) and packaging that still contains food when thrown out (38%). Just over 1 in 3 respondents (35%) agree that fast-food/fast-casual companies serve food in sustainable packaging.
More food for thought, so to speak, for the food service industry emerges when we look at Canadian attitudes towards at-home delivery. Three in 5 (59%) have had a food-related item delivered to their home in the past year, the most common being fast food (52%). In the next year, over 1 in 4 consumers (27%) expect the number of at-home deliveries they receive to increase. Younger respondents, aged 18 to 34 were the most likely to expect the frequency of at-home deliveries to increase over the next year.
“With eco-friendly practices on the rise, ongoing tracking of consumer preferences will be of paramount importance,” said Wayne Russum, Senior Vice President at Caravan. “By keeping updated on sustainability trends, food services can make better choices regarding packaging and innovation, cost control, customer preferences, and also environmentally-friendly practices – which in the long-run can impact the bottom line and overall growth.” A big win for the industry is a clear preference among Canadians for disposable paper products, with 63% saying that they opt for paper materials most often, followed by plastic (15%) and Styrofoam (6%).