Kroger survey reveals varying concerns over grocery sustainability

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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grocery shoppers
Grocery shoppers have a range of opinions about sustainable shopping.

A new survey demonstrates that there is not a single consumer mindset when it comes to sustainable retail practices.

84.51°, the data analytics subsidiary of Kroger, is releasing data from a recent survey of consumers about a range of sustainable grocery retail issues. According to the 84.51° survey, close to three in 10 (27%) consumers say that they care very much about sustainability when it comes to grocery shopping.

However, the survey also reveals that consumers are seeking cost-effective ways to shop for groceries sustainably. Only 9% of respondents say that they recognize they will pay a premium price for sustainable grocery features. Following are the most popular sustainable elements respondents cited they look for when they are shopping for groceries:

  • 45% of consumers are concerned with limiting food waste.
  • 34% of consumers are seeking reusable packaging.
  • 29% of consumers are concerned with overall sustainability when shopping.
  • 29% of consumers are focused on reducing their plastic purchases when shopping.

The survey also reveals that shoppers are generally more concerned about sustainability in non-food grocery/CPG-related product categories, such as household cleaning, paper products, and personal care. Grocery/CPG categories with the lowest levels of concern included: 

  • Cereal (38%).
  • Snacks/candy (35%).
  • Baby care (24%).

Grocery/CPG product categories with the highest levels of concern included:

  • Household cleaning (65%).
  • Paper products (63%).
  • Shelf-stable foods/ Personal care (61% each). 
  • Health care (60%). 
  • Frozen food/ Dairy (56%).

In other findings, the survey indicates that about one-third (32%) of respondents are extremely concerned about climate change, but only 21% are extremely concerned about the overall sustainability of the grocery products they purchase. According to 84.51° analysis, this discrepancy his showcases a disconnect in how they believe their purchases will impact climate change.  

Survey: Customers like sustainable stores
A recent survey from Sensormatic Solutions, a Johnson Controls company, shows higher levels of consumer interest in general retail sustainability. Almost half of respondents (49%) believe that the responsibility for implementing sustainable practices falls on corporations and retailers, as opposed to individuals or government regulators.

And over half of those surveyed (53%) said they would use a brand or store less frequently if they discovered that a brand or store wasn't operating sustainably, and 18% said they would stop shopping with that retailer altogether.

Furthermore, 70% of respondents said they are willing to pay at least 5% more for products that can demonstrate a fully sustainable supply chain—even though cost is the most cited barrier to sustainable shopping (55%), closely followed by consumers’ perception that the stores they frequent do not offer many sustainable options (47%).

In addition, over 90% of respondents to the Sensormatic Solutions survey said that it’s important to them that retailers continue to improve environmental performance and energy management in their stores. Sixty-two percent would like to see this done through a switch to sustainable packaging alternatives, and 54% would like retailers to enhance inventory intelligence to avoid overstocks, wasted goods, added deliveries while optimizing fulfillment methods, and more.