Tetra Pak, Vernon Hills, Ill., revealed the findings from a global research study in partnership with Ipsos, France, on the environment and health.

With two-thirds of consumers now believing that the food and beverage industry is reaching an environmental tipping point, consumers see themselves as being directly responsible for the world around them and for their own health. With environmental issues becoming more evident in daily life, their concerns about the impact on their health is also growing. Nearly 60% of consumers now believe that their health and well-being are strongly affected by environmental problems.

Consumer concerns and priorities

The more concerned about the environment consumers become, the more health-conscious they become too. Mental health is now considered equal to physical health, as 67% of consumers agree that it is a major concern for society, with stress considered the most concerning from a personal perspective.

To support brands with navigating this journey, the Tetra Pak Index 2019 reveals six new segments of consumers, each with their own attitudes around both health and the environment.

Active ambassadors. High engagement in all aspects of health and environment, willing to take action, challenge boundaries and influence others. 

  • Look to fact-based sources such as scientists and academics, as well as NGOs for advice on the environment.

Planet friends. Willing to take action about the environment with high engagement on most aspects of health, but less inclined to challenge boundaries.

  • Engaged and willing to take action about the environment. High engagement also on most aspects of health, especially for peace of mind.

Health conscious. Aware and engaged about the environment, but prioritize health over the planet. Prepared to pay more and sacrifice convenience for healthy products. 

  • Depend heavily on social media and other online sources.

Followers. Engaged enough with health and environmental issues to feel guilty about both, but not inclined to change behavior or try new things.

  • Sizeable mainstream cohort with interesting potential, want to know more and be persuaded and energized to act. Look to TV/radio more than the average.

Laggards. Lack of knowledge and interest in all aspects of health and the environment. Skeptical about technology and change.

  • Look to their own personal, real world networks, particularly toward friends and family.

Skeptics. Aware of environmental issues, but inclined to decline them as “fake news;” “traditional” views on food and health.

  • One in five Skeptics say they don’t take advice on the environment from any media channel.

Market differences

While the intersection of personal and planet health is generally on the rise globally, the level of maturity varies between countries.

In Brazil, consumers are more interested in eco-branded and natural products, marked with health, beauty and sustainable benefits alike.

For the UK, it’s younger consumers in particular who are connecting food, health and the environment, with many seeking to explore different diets such as flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan. Consequently there are many Planet friends here (+14%).

China cites air pollution as the No. 1 consumer concern for both health and the environment (50% and 70%, respectively). As such, there is an over index of Health conscious consumers here (+14%).

Individual responsibility is rising

Environment is the No. 1 global concern, and urgency is growing. Consumers are therefore making more informed choices over packaging, are looking for environmental information in labeling and are purchasing environmentally-sound products even if they cost more. Food and beverage is a key catalyst here. The No. 1 change ambition for both health and environmental reasons is greater consumption of environmentally-sound food and beverage products. Consumers now overwhelmingly see themselves as being the most responsible for both the environment and their own health, with little difference between the two (71% and 74%, respectively), followed by government and politicians, while brands and retailers feature much lower down. Packaging and recyclability specifically are critical.

“Food and beverage is perhaps the first industry to see the emerging trend for convergence of health and environment,” says Gisele Gurgel, director business insights and analytics for Tetra Pak. “It provides a new opportunity for brands to make a powerful, purposeful and personal connection with consumers by addressing and communicating both at the same time. Many consumers are eager to read and learn more about the environment, including package-related topics (39%) particularly via social networks. In particular, the sweet spot is natural/organic products, no additives, and seasonal also rate highly in this regard. In terms of categories, 100% fruit juice, white milk, packaged water, coconut water and plant-based drinks are the most compelling.”

“This research project was unique in how it combined the two areas of health and environment and how we have segmented consumers based on the convergence between the two,” adds Lena Gilchrist, client director, Ipsos. “The six segments have different drivers and barriers, and they trust different sources for information. The implication is that a tailored approach is needed to communicate with the different consumer groups. While some search fact-based information from scientists, others rely on input from friends and social media.”​​