The last couple of months were unexpected and brought society a lot of changes. For some of us those changes were already happening and for others it was something completely new. In a world where sustainability and the well-being of society are the most discussed topics, we wondered what the role of the consumer is in the topic of food. Is eating healthy food enough for a better future? Or should we reconsider all aspects related to this subject?
︎︎︎DEMI KOPPENAAL / CLIMATE
Quality over quantityFor some, local means grocery shopping at the supermarket nearby. But if you go back to the core, it means that you could actually get your groceries from the farmer. “The local farmer can tell you everything about what your food needs when it is growing and what is in it, e.g. pesticides”, says Demi.
Our country is richer than you think. There are a lot of places around us where your fruit and vegetables are grown, planted and finally harvested. One advantage of local food is that it is cheaper because there are no companies or people between the farmer and the consumer within the supply chain. Something people are often unaware of. It is a good solution for people with a lower income; healthy food for a normal price.
Not only stores can have a big impact. It’s important to support each other as well.’
Small action, big impact
In addition to the possibility to shop at local farmers, several other initiatives have been set up, because shopping at a local farmer is not realistic for everyone. For people who live in a big city there are several well-considered possibilities, e.g. Hello Fresh, which focuses on fresh fruit and vegetables from local farmers. 'Too Good To Go' where you can pick something up at the end of the day for a small price from different companies like supermarkets and restaurants to avoid wasting food. And there are also online initiatives such as 'CrowdFarming': "A group of farmers who joined forces to promote sustainable cultivation, improving the environment and allowing us to recover our fields.”
Another idea, mostly for the do-it-yourselfer is something that has grown in the past few years and is playing a big role nowadays as well is producing your own vegetables. Something that allows us to see what we eventually eat and can easily adapt to our values and needs in our daily life.
Using a special service or growing your own fruit and vegetables is not easy to manage for all of us. Again, but with a different vision, good initiatives have been set up to make the world a lot more pleasant. Start-up ‘Cheetah’ in the US is an example of this. “By placing the fridge in the street near nonprofit organizations or in public locations, anyone who has a need can step up to the fridge at their own convenience and take what they want”, says Na’ama Moran, Cheetah co-founder and CEO.
Another good example of initiatives for helping others is Tangelo. The app of Tangelo gives the opportunity to help identify the most vulnerable, low-income community members and then invite them to download the app, which gives them each $40 a month to spend on produce deliveries, for a total of six months. “When healthy food gets delivered to your door, the word ‘food desert’ becomes meaningless”, says Michel Nischan, founder of Wholesale Wave, a nonprofit that collaborated on the development of the app.
A responsible inside and outsideDurability is important. If we buy something healthy, we also expect well-considered packaging.
The consumer expects transparency, but also a certain quality. Now, ask yourself this question: what are the most important values? "If you would ask us, the most important ones are health and safety. Packaging is a matter of innovation, which people are constantly working on to make it more sustainable. But consumers also need to understand that there are some difficulties that need to be reconsidered. Packaging must have a long shelf life and be easy to transport. Not only from the supermarket to your home, but also through a special service. It's a matter of giving and taking," says Dr Kara Nielsen from trend forecasting agency WGSN.
When you think about sustainable packaging, there are several possibilities. Brands that are spot on and making their way are, for example, Johnnie Walker. Where the old bottle was made of glass and plastic, their new one is made from sustainably sourced food-safe wood pulp. Also 100% plastic-free and completely recyclable. “Yes, glass is recyclable, but it tends to have a bigger environmental footprint because it is heavier, which adds to its carbon footprint. Any decrease is a good thing - 91% of the 300 million tons of plastic we produce a year isn’t recycled at all”, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. An organization who continues to work to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities.
‘People are increasingly concerned and conscious about their environmental habits and we felt the design had a place to explore a different behaviour.’
If all ingredients for a perfect world are implemented, the consumer needs to be considered. Because in the end, they need to change their behaviour. It will play a major role in our economy, which companies will finally respond to. Consumers are often unaware of their behaviour but expect perfection from companies.
A company that properly holds up a mirror to its consumers is Burger King. They made an advertisement during the last few months for late-night delivery. “The film shows exactly what used to happen late-night in BK restaurants,” says Rafael Donato. “The scenes are composed of material found on the internet, videos sent in by consumers, and videos captured by our team at Burger King’s restaurants before the pandemic.” “Over the past few months, we’ve been seeing recurring mentions on our social media channels about people who miss visiting our stores, so we decided to play with our own ‘embarrassing situations’ through this campaign and bring humour to our consumers during the pandemic”.
Besides the funny ones, there are also ways to get in touch with the customer in a positive way. Packaging should be in line with the brand, but can also actually have a message. This is how KitKat entered into a collaboration with 'R U OK? To have a 'chit-chat' with impact. They wanted to inspire and empower people to connect meaningfully and help those around them who might be struggling.
In my opinion there are many possibilities for a well-considered and healthy lifestyle when talking about the food industry, for each and everyone of us. It is a matter of give and take and to have faith in the fact that the revolutionary solutions that are being found nowadays, will have a positive impact on consumer behavior, food and its packaging in the (near) future.