Findings from our survey on the expectations of European citizen-consumers regarding agrobiodiversity use in food chains
As the founding stage of the European project DIVINFOOD, a large online survey and several focus groups were organized in 2022 in the seven partner countries (Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland) to gather the opinions of citizen-consumers on the development of plant-based food chains in relation to environmental issues. In DIVINFOOD, consumers are considered to be citizens who can decide not only what is on their plate but also what should be implemented in the food systems that produce and supply food products.
In total, 2397 people responded to the online questionnaire and over a hundred people participated in the focus groups – the sample representing a wide diversity of profiles.
This survey provides key results :
- Amongst seven major environmental issues, “disappearance of certain plant or animal species”ranks third as the “most worrying” – after “climate change” and “pollution of water, lakes and rivers” (but ahead of “air pollution”, “waste increase”, or “natural disasters such as droughts or floods”).
- However, less than 20% of respondents declared choosing a food product based on the varieties or breeds it comes from, indicating a weak connection between concern about agrobiodiversity declining and individual consumption.
- Citizen-consumers are not so much interested by the varieties or breeds from which food is derived, but would like to know the impact of using specific agrobiodiversity in food.
- Digital communication to give information about food (apps, QR code, etc.) received contrasted opinions, encouraging the co-design of information tools with citizen-consumers.
- Discussions have revealed the fear of citizen-consumers of developing elitist and time-consuming short food supply chains for consumers, calling for these constraints to be taken into account. It has also been shown that there is an interest in developing “intermediate” supply chains (offering products in relatively large quantities, well identified and of better quality compared to mass-produced products, but that can be found in conventional retail outlets – e.g., regional product aisles in supermarkets).
Overall, this study has shown a strong interest and enthusiasm among Europeans for the the use of local seeds, organic labeling methods, minimal transformation techniques, and short chains, rather than for the conventional ways to produce and supply food, regardless of their socio-economic group, level of education, or area of residence. So there is a plebiscite for the research & innovation themes of DIVINFOOD but the project partners are committed to taking into account citizen-consumers’ expectations in their activities.
Or the summary in 7 national languages :