UK consumers consider environmental impact when buying food

26 April 2021

A recent YouGov consumer omnibus survey conducted on behalf of First Milk has shown that three-quarters (76%) of consumers are concerned about climate change, with almost one-third (29%) taking environmental factors into account when choosing food.

The survey, conducted in late March 2021, showed the following:

  • 76% of UK adults concerned about climate change in general
  • 29% of UK adults take the overall impact on the environment into consideration when buying food
  • 33% of UK adults think that farming and the production of dairy foods significantly contributes to climate change
  • 46% of UK adults think rearing of animals for meat consumption significantly contributes to climate change
  • 37% of UK adults think food waste significantly contributes to climate change

When it comes to dairy consumption, 94% of UK adults said they purchased dairy products for themselves or others, although this figure declined to 78% in 18-24-year-olds. The purchase of dairy products was highest in Northern Ireland (98%) and lowest in London (86%).

More than three-quarters of UK adults would most prefer to buy milk and dairy products guaranteed to come from cows that have access to pasture/the outdoors (78%), with almost two-thirds (63%) saying they are concerned about the welfare of dairy cows in the UK.

Commenting on the results, Mark Brooking, Sustainability Director, First Milk, said:

“This survey reinforces that UK consumers are concerned about climate change, with many taking environmental factors into consideration when choosing food. It also highlights the level of interest UK consumers have in animal welfare and dairy production systems.

“We know that the UK farming sector takes its responsibilities seriously and has a good track record in terms of animal welfare, with a growing focus on environmental responsibility, especially around climate change. But we all share the responsibility for communicating to consumers about the great work going on across the farming sector and highlighting the importance of the many initiatives that underline the positive benefits of UK farming and food.

“At First Milk, these findings simply strengthen our commitment to our First4Milk programme, which guarantees cows have access to grazing, and commits us to achieving net zero by 2040 at the latest. Making these commitments helps us safeguard the future for our dairy farmer owners, ensuring that consumers can continue to enjoy the great taste, nutrition and health benefits available from a balanced diet including dairy consumption, with none of the associated climate or animal welfare guilt.”

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