Sustainability symbolises complex issues and means different things in different parts of Europe, as revealed by new research by Danish scientists in collaboration with the European Food Information Council. The term is linked with environmental protection in the UK, France, Germany and Spain but with shelf-life in Sweden and a standard of living in Poland.
Logos depicting ethical and environmental impacts were among consumers’ least favourite labels and had less impact on choice than price or nutrition information. Better understanding of sustainability was associated with higher use of logos, but only when consumers were concerned about such issues.
Among those less concerned, better awareness of the message behind the logos actually reduced their use. Understanding the type of information that helps consumers recognise the impact of food products on different aspects of sustainability is key to mitigating the complex food security challenges we face and informing food choice to shift dietary behaviour in a positive direction.