Canadian Manufacturing

Global consumer concerns over climate change and food shortages escalate: Mintel study

by CM Staff   

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Climate change (46%), air quality (36%) and plastic pollution (33%) are global consumers' top three environmental concerns.

CHICAGO — Consumer fears over climate change have escalated around the globe over the last year. According to new research from the 2022 Mintel Consulting Sustainability Barometer, the number of global consumers citing climate change as a top three environmental concern has risen from an average of 39% to 46% between 2021-22*.

In addition to climate change, concern over water shortages (up from 27% in 2021 to 31% in 2022) and food shortages (up from 17% to 23%) have made the most significant gains in terms of environmental priorities in the past 12 months as extreme weather events and the conflict in Ukraine make these troubling realities more commonplace.

Climate change remains the world’s highest environmental priority with nearly half (46%) of consumers globally citing it among their top three concerns. Air quality (eg exhaust fumes, industrial emissions) (36%) and plastic pollution (eg ocean plastic) (33%) complete the world’s top three environmental concerns; however, concerns about plastic pollution are down slightly from 36% in 2021.

Growing awareness is evident as just under three in five (58%) consumers globally agree that extreme weather events (eg flooding, heatwaves) in the country where they live encourage them to personally do more activities to protect the environment. And it seems helping the planet brings with it a feel-good factor as an overwhelming 68% of consumers globally say doing things that benefit the environment makes them feel happy. While 38% say they want to show other people how they are doing good for the environment (eg by sharing on social media). A further 24% say they have researched their annual carbon footprint (eg with an online calculator or app).


While environmental priorities have shifted in the last year, consumers’ sustainable behaviors remain focused on simplicity and frugality: recycling packaging (59% in 2022 v 60% in 2021), meal planning to avoid food waste (53% in 2022 v 52% in 2021) and reducing clothes buying (50% in 2022 v 52% in 2021) remain the top global sustainable behaviors 2022-2021. Furthermore, global consumers’ optimism has stalled with 55% believing that if we act now, we still have time to save the planet, compared to 54% who said the same last year.


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