Flemish consumer attitudes towards more sustainable food choices.Appetite 2013; 62:7-16A
Intensive agricultural practices and current western consumption patterns are associated with increased ecological pressure. One way to reduce the ecological impact could be a shift to more sustainable food choices. This study investigates consumer opinions towards a series of food choices with a lower ecological impact. The investigated food choices range from well-known meat substitutes to alternatives which are more radical or innovative and that require an adaptation of food habits and cultural patterns. Results are obtained through a survey among 221 Flemish respondents in Spring 2011. Many consumers underestimate the ecological impact of animal production. Well-known alternatives such as organic meat, moderation of meat consumption and sustainable fish are accepted, although willingness to pay is clearly lower than willingness to consume. Consumers are more reluctant to alternatives that (partly) ban or replace meat in the meal. Opportunities of introducing insects currently appear to be non-existent. Five consumer segments were identified based on self-evaluated ecological footprint and personal relevance of the ecological footprint. The segments were termed Conscious, Active, Unwilling, Ignorant and Uncertain. A profile in terms of demographics, attitudinal and behavioral characteristics is developed for each segments, and conclusions with respect to opportunities for sustainable food choices are discussed.