Consumers across the globe tend to be most optimistic about the future of their families and most pessimistic about the future of the planet. This relatively high concern for the environment is matched by a strong professed commitment to making grocery choices with sustainability in mind, with most consumers in all six countries included in our survey reporting that they consider sustainability when shopping at least some of the time.

Indigenous woman with her truck full of vegetables

As a complement to our long-running U.S.-based series of health & wellness syndicated studies, The Hartman Group conducted a survey of consumers in six countries: USA, Brazil, China, Germany, India, and Mexico. Fielded earlier this year, the report highlights essential health & wellness concerns within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other topics, such as sustainability and meal habits, to broaden the investigation. 

The report, Health & Wellness Across the Globe, reveals that beliefs about the immediacy of environmental concerns combine with cultural variations to create a patchwork of attitudes and behaviors related to sustainability around the world. Here’s a snapshot of international perspectives on sustainability and habits around sustainable purchasing.

Outlook on the Future

Consumers across the six countries tend to have a positive outlook on what lies ahead. When asked to think about the future for themselves, their family, their community, their country, and the planet, and how optimistic they are that things are headed in a good direction, consumers in China and India were most optimistic overall. This indicates an ability to decouple concerns about the planet from worries about direct impacts on one’s own family.

 Global HW Optimism for the Future Chart

Impact on Society

Which has the greatest impact on society: purchase decisions, voting decisions or community involvement?

Consumers across these countries vary greatly in their perception of how best to impact society.

In the USA, Brazil, and Mexico, more consumers see voting as the most impactful mechanism, in contrast to China where just 15% view voting as most effective.

In China and Germany, close to half consider purchase decisions to have the strongest influence. Community involvement is seen as effective by a third or more in India and China. 

Grocery Purchasing Decisions Based on Sustainability Concerns

How often are grocery purchasing decisions based upon concerns for issues such as the environment and social well-being? Consumers in Brazil, China, India and Mexico are much more likely to factor in sustainability-related issues to their grocery choices. Consumers in India are more than twice as likely than USA consumers to “always/usually” consider sustainability issues in their grocery purchase decisions (79% to 36% respectively).

Most consumers across the six countries included in the survey report seeking sustainable products for reasons divided between self-interest and environmental concerns.

In the USA and Mexico, around half say the biggest reason to purchase sustainable products is the benefit they provide to themselves or family. On the other hand, in Germany and Brazil, more than 40% say that benefits to the earth/environment are the main reason they do so.

Most Important Benefits to Purchasing Sustainably

Plastic pollution minimization and natural resources conservation are highly ranked in most of these countries. This elevated concern about plastic is of particular relevance for the food and beverage industry, where the material is widely used in packaging.

In addition, there are several benefit areas that particularly stand out in certain nations:

  • China & Brazil—minimizing air, water and soil pollution
  • Germany—improving treatment of animals in food production
  • India & Mexico—economic sustainability
  • China & India (both important agricultural producers)—organic/ natural farming methods

Consumers are deeply concerned about sustainability and want to do their part to improve the environment. This should drive innovation with an eye to how to make it easier for consumers to do so.

Learn more and order the report: Health & Wellness Across the Globe