While consumer demand for sustainably sourced food products is on an upswing, divergent and often competing criteria make it difficult for people to make informed decisions. In its coverage of a climate week virtual panel, Food Industry News helped to explain some of the confusion. 

“Even for an informed person in the aisle making a decision, it’s so hard to absorb all the information, especially on something like ESG (environmental, social and governance factors), which is covering everything from environmental issues to human rights issues to nutrition to governing topics around representation on their board,” said Amy Senter, chief sustainability officer for the Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich.

The publication cited the International Food Information Council Foundation 2020 Food & Health Survey which found that nearly 60% of consumers surveyed said it was important the foods they purchase or consume are produced in an environmentally sustainable manner. Yet the article notes, “More than 60% said they found it hard to know whether their food choices are environmentally sustainable.” 

Palm oil, the world’s leading edible oil, was identified in this article as one such misunderstood food choice. Some organizations and government entities have called for a boycott over environmental concerns, despite the fact that sustainable palm oil is readily available and is more environmentally friendly than other oils and fats, based on numerous measures. 

The Food Industry News article quotes DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences Global Product Marketing Manager Aurora Giribuola: “Boycotting palm oil does not offer a long-term solution. Responsible palm oil is the way forward. Package claims are part of the toolbox to make consumers aware of sustainably sourced ingredients.”    

Cargill Global Edible Oils Marketing Manager Jamie Mavec also commented, “Across all commodities, palm and soy oil included, people want assurance that raw materials are sourced in a sustainable, environmentally conscious way. A transparent and traceable supply chain is key to delivering on that demand and serves to elevate consumer trust in the brands they buy.”