COP 26: Consumers need lower prices if they are to shop more sustainably

Price remains more important than the environment to consumers, a poll of shoppers has found.

The majority of consumers care about sustainability but are often unable or unwilling to pay more for ‘greener’ alternatives, according to the latest research from Asda.

The supermarket polled 3,000 consumers ahead of the COP 26 conference in Glasgow to understand what lifestyle changes they were prepared to make to reduce their carbon footprint and ultimately help the UK reach its net-zero carbon target by 2050.

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When asked what would help them shop more sustainably, 76 per cent of consumers suggested lower prices, 56 per cent said greater choice, while 45 per cent said logos declaring what is sustainable would be useful. To underline the importance of making sustainable options affordable, half of consumers said they would not be prepared to pay a premium for greener everyday items such as milk and bread.

The findings suggest that greater collaboration is needed between suppliers, manufacturers and retailers to remove the price barrier preventing shoppers from purchasing sustainable products. Asda’s ‘Greener at Asda Price Promise’ aims to address concerns around cost. Introduced last October, it means loose, compact, concentrated or unwrapped alternatives are the same price or less than packed alternatives.

The supermarket continues to work on expanding its range of greener choices. It recently opened new refill stores in York and Glasgow stocking an extensive range of more than 70 branded and own-label products in loose format for customers to buy using their own containers.

More greener products will be launched next year and given prominent positions in store and on Asda’s website to encourage customer participation.

Asda research showed what consumers want.

Susan Thomas, Senior Director of Commercial Sustainability at Asda, said: “Our research shows that consumers from all backgrounds care about sustainability but many cannot afford to buy greener products when they shop.

"We believe that nobody should be priced out of making sustainable choices and our ‘Greener at Asda Price Promise’ aims to remove price as a barrier to purchase. The onus is on supermarkets, retailers and the industry as a whole to work collaboratively to make greener products more affordable. Consumers can also play their part by embracing greener choices, as investment will increase in line with shopper demand.”