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Industry Sustainability Drivers

Consumer Behaviours

Consumer interest in sustainable agri-food products is increasing. This trend indicates modifications in consumption habits that have been significantly influenced by the rise in social and environmental concerns.

According to a 2020 survey performed by IBM and The National Retail Federation, nearly six in 10 customers surveyed in the United States and Canada are willing to modify their purchasing patterns to decrease their environmental impact.

Businesses in other industries along with the agri-food sector are listening to the growing consumer demands and adopting a more sustainable way of production. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the amount of businesses committed to biodiversity-friendly sourcing techniques climbed by 45 per cent in the food, cosmetic and natural pharmaceutical industries worldwide from 2016 to 2020.

The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity

The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) released the 2021 Public Trust Research Report, which provides a multi-faceted understanding of Canadians’ trust in Canada's food system. The 2021 results provide action items for the food system to share its stories and be transparent to build public trust.

  • Canadians are interested in improving the food system as a whole. Through qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, the results demonstrate that consumers are interested in advancing overarching matters of the food system like food affordability, profit-driven systems and sustainability, while asking for more transparency.
  • The proportion of Canadians who felt that Canada’s food system is headed in the right direction has significantly declined after a considerable improvement in 2020.
  • For the first time, global warming and environmental issues have made the top five list of concerns for Canadians.
  • When asking Canadians what a Canadian farmer looks like, responses such as “man”, “older” and “plaid” were prominent answers.
  • Respondents did not feel it was more difficult to access food during the pandemic, with some even saying it was easier.
  • Canadians are concerned about the ‘big picture’ of food, and themes such as profit-driven markets, sustainability and affordability need to be addressed in communication efforts moving forward.

Visit the CCFI’s website to download the full 2021 report.

Local Research into Consumer Purchasing Behaviour

Research conducted in September 2020 revealed that the majority of Manitobans consider environmentally sustainable product labels and messaging when deciding what food to buy. One in 10 Manitobans say they nearly always purchase these types of products over others:

Picture of Consumer Purchasing Behaviour graph representing consumer preference on environmentally sustainable product labels

Subpopulations not influenced by environmentally sustainable labels:

Picture of Consumer Purchasing Behaviour graph representing percentage of consumer demography not influenced by labels

Health and nutrition is among the most important factors in buying plant-protein foods:

Picture of Consumer Purchasing Behaviour graph ranking the most important factors consumers consider while choosing products


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