Millennials represent a significant consumer market, with many looking for sustainability and transparency from the companies they buy from. To gain more insight on how these values affect shopping decisions, Nestlé surveyed millennials about their views on palm oil, a common ingredient in many Nestlé products. 

As reported by the Center for Sustainable Palm Oil Studies (CSPO), Nestlé has been working with sustainably produced, deforestation-free palm oil manufacturers with a goal to have a 100% deforestation-free supply chain by 2022. But working with their small-scale farmers on sustainability has proven difficult. Nestlé wants consumers to understand the challenge of sourcing sustainable products.

Nestle’s survey results showed that around one in every five millennials avoid buying products that contain palm oil or will actively check to see if a product contains the ingredient. About half will avoid products containing unsustainable palm oil.

A large majority of millennials want sustainable products but some aren’t sure how to get them. Most consumers believe in the importance of purchasing sustainable products but around one out of 10 of these consumers are not sure how to find that information.

Many respondents reported that they do not take the time to research products, believing that  researching environmental credibility is too time-consuming. Millennials’ focus seems to be on sustainability information on the labels, and less  on supply chain issues that might require further investigation about the company.

The information revealed by Nestl​é’s survey is consistent with a report by BBMG/GlobeScan, published on the global community site Sustainable Brands, which found that, “Fifty nine percent of young people under age 30 often or always consider how responsible a brand is when choosing food and drinks.”

That report found that, “Seventy three percent of consumers believe brands should provide clear information to consumers about how a product was made, who made it, and what’s in it.”

BBMG and GlobeScan claim, “Brand trust is paramount in getting people to try new, sustainable food innovations.” To better communicate with and gain trust from their consumers, “Brands must tell stories of the food journey that differentiate their brand and unlock relevance.”

Nestlé is working to educate consumers and make product information more readily available with their interactive video platform Beneath the Surface. Emma Keller, Ph.D., Head of Sustainability for Nestl​é UK and Ireland explains, “The Beneath the Surface platform enables users to take a peek at some of the dilemmas Nestl​é​ and many other organizations face with palm oil every day. We hope that by having more open conversations about the complexity of sourcing ingredients such as palm oil, people can understand the issues and make better informed decisions when choosing products.”