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Health and climate top consumers’ concerns about the food system, report finds

Consumers rank malnutrition, pesticides, obesity and diet-related health issues, and plastic waste from packaging as the most concerning aspects of the food system, according to an EAT-GlobeScan survey.

GlobeScan chart: Health worries top consumers' concerns about the food system

Source: Alana Duval/GlobeScan

Since 2021, GlobeScan has partnered with EAT, a science-based global platform for food system transformation, to conduct the Grains of Truth consumer research series. This annual survey, conducted in 31 markets worldwide, delves into consumers' concerns about the current food system, their attitudes and behaviors toward consuming healthy and sustainable food, and their viewpoints on who should lead the transformation of the food system. 

The latest edition of the study reveals that consumers worldwide believe that malnutrition, pesticides, obesity and diet-related health issues, and plastic waste from food packaging are the most concerning aspects of the food system (how food is produced, processed, shipped, stored, sold to consumers and disposed of), although concern is high across an even broader range of issues such as food waste, unequal access to nutritious food, and animal welfare. About three-quarters of the global public express at least some concern with the top issues. Older people tend to be more concerned about these issues than those who are younger. 

What does this mean?

These results strongly emphasize the importance of the connection between health and sustainable food. The top four food-system issues consumers are most worried about are either directly related to human health (malnutrition or obesity) or sit at the intersection of human health and the environment (pesticides used in agriculture and plastic waste from food packaging). To engage with consumers on sustainable food or diets, governments and businesses must account for public health concerns, whether through policy design or product innovation. 

Survey Question: There are many aspects to how food is produced at the farm, processed, shipped, stored, and then sold to consumers and disposed of. Please rate how concerned you are about each of the different parts of this food system: Very concerned, somewhat concerned, neither concerned nor not concerned, not very concerned, not at all concerned.

Source: GlobeScan and EAT Grains of Truth report (survey of 29,565 people in the general public across 31 countries and territories in July-August 2023)

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