Fewer and fewer consumers say they choose healthy and sustainable foods for their menu. Perhaps because distrust in the food sector is on the rise and so is skepticism about the sustainability and healthiness of the food consumed. This is revealed by the latest report from the EIT Food Consumer Observatory (a research center focused on innovation in the food sector supported by the EU), which asked 19,642 consumers from 18 European countries about their level of trust in the system. food.

The study shows that half of Europeans believe that the food they eat is safe, but only 36% believe it is sustainable and 44% believe it is healthy.

And this skepticism about the authenticity of food products is reflected in a decrease in citizens’ motivations to try to lead a sustainable and healthy lifestyle.

If in 2020 practically eight out of ten consumers expressed the intention of leading a sustainable lifestyle, in this latest report, from 2023, there are seven out of ten, and less than half of those surveyed say they take into account the environmental impact of your diet when choosing what to eat. And only 56% try to eat healthy, a percentage that was 60% in 2020.

However, the weight given to sustainability and health in the diet differs greatly from one consumer to another. Broadly speaking, people with less education, young people, men and those who live alone place less emphasis on these aspects. And, in general, couples tend to have a healthier and more sustainable diet than those who live alone; and households with children more than those without.

On the other hand, researchers emphasize that those who care about eating healthy are also interested (8 out of 10) in their diet being sustainable. And vice versa.

Regarding the decline in Europeans’ trust in the food sector, the report shows that farmers remain the most valued group (65% trust them), followed by retailers (50%) and restaurants and food services. catering (48%).

In contrast, just four in ten consumers believe that food manufacturers care about people and only 37% feel that they are transparent and honest about how they prepare and sell their products.

And the authorities in charge of regulating the sector (European and national) do not fare well either: just over a third of respondents think that they take into account the interests of the consumer or that they are transparent in the regulation of food.

“Consumers need to be able to trust that the food they eat is good for them and the planet; If we want to help people make long-term changes to the way they eat, we need the food sector to work with consumers to provide them with better information, options and access to diets that are healthy, nutritious and sustainable while also being inclusive and affordable for everyone,” said the head of the EIT Food Consumer Observatory, economist Klaus G. Grunert, in the presentation of the report.