Last Updated on January 1, 2021 by monica chan

Cargill releases the results of new research that finds sustainability concerns influence chocolate purchases.

Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate established the Cargill Cocoa Promise programme in 2012 as framework for their global sustainability activities.

To ensure a more sustainable supply of quality cocoa beans, Cargill established their own sourcing and trading operations at origin in Brazil, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia.

It is in their interest to connect consumers to a fully transparent cocoa supply chain.

Cocoa and chocolate, sustainability is taking on increased importance, influencing consumers’ purchase decisions and their perceptions of the brands they buy.

Cargill wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the consumers’ sustainability perceptions and behaviours.

From the new research, they found people look for products with sustainability credentials and are willing to pay more for brands that invest in environmental or social initiatives that align with their beliefs.

The research, which surveyed more than 7,000 consumers across 10 European countries, was designed to gain a deeper understanding of consumers’ sustainability perceptions, intentions and declared behaviors, providing insights for brands to plan their sustainability strategies.

In the survey, Cargill found 70% of consumers factor sustainability into their food and beverage purchase decisions, with an even higher percentage if they were frequent chocolate purchasers, with nearly three-quarters, reporting they prefer to buy sustainable products.

Niels Boetje, Managing Director of Cocoa at Cargill said,

Consumer expectations are higher now than ever before. Our research suggests that increasingly, consumers look for responsibly sourced brands, backed by concrete claims and compelling stories that connect the products they purchase with tangible progress on critical issues like child protection and deforestation elimination.

Cargill found sustainability concerns influence purchase decisions across demographic groups, with younger consumers, age 18-34, most concerned about these issues.

Among this cohort, 76% acknowledged sustainability has become more important to them in the past year when choosing chocolate products.

While flavour and price remain the top two considerations for these purchases, survey respondents ranked environmental and social sustainability on par with factors like nutritional value, brand name and previous product trial.

The research dug into consumers’ highest concerns related to chocolate products, with child labour being top of the list, followed closely by farmer income and deforestation.

It found that companies’ commitments in these areas had a positive impact on brand perceptions, with consumers viewing brands who make these investments as more premium, trustworthy and of higher quality, in comparison to others.

Research found 68% said they would pay more for a chocolate product made with sustainable cocoa. Consumers also indicated they were more willing to pay a premium for chocolate products with sustainability claims as compared to those made with less sugar, single origin cocoa or even organic claims.

It was unclear from the report, however, how much more a consumer is willing to pay as an ‘ethical premium’ on different products. We can assume that different demographics and different market segments will each have their own level of premium they can support before price becomes an overriding factor.

We should also monitor the results on the ground to compare with the results of any survey to see how closely aligned peoples actions are to what they say in a study.

Mr Boetje adds,

Sustainability is rising in importance across a broad range of consumers, providing an opportunity for brands to elevate their existing commitments and invest in initiatives that truly resonate with their customers.

At Cargill, we operate in the middle of the supply chain, creating a bridge between the cocoa-producing countries and our customers that produce consumer products.

As a result, we are well positioned to support food and beverage manufacturers’ sustainability commitments and collaborate on initiatives that reflect their customers’ priorities.

We can help reinforce their brand values and bring their sustainability goals to life with assets that communicate in an engaging way.

Cargill has produced these country specific consumer insights to provide a valuable tool when it comes to making relevant sustainability investments, for building an inspiring sustainability story, and for connecting and communicating a brands sustainability involvement and impacts with their customers.

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