Conscious consumers

Supermarkets offer so many choices that sustainable consumption is difficult

Half of Dutch consumers say they consider sustainability in their own purchasing decisions. At the same time, they see combating climate change primarily as the responsibility of government and industry.

In theory, consumers have a lot of influence, with their daily shopping they vote for the world in which they want to live. But when you’re standing in front of a shelf with 20 types of canned tomatoes, it’s hard to know what to choose. So how can you determine which can has the least environmental damage?

There is a major role for companies to limit the unbridled choices. And to keep out products that clearly cause social damage. It is the role of the government to draw up rules and determine the lower limit.

More and more companies communicate about sustainability on the packaging of their products. “This product is from the farmer in the region,” it says, for example. But the sustainability claims are often formulated too positively. For example, environmental damage may still have been caused in the supply chain.

Albert Heijn is currently experimenting with true pricing with their coffee. D’66 member of parliament Raoul Boucke has submitted a motion that is also about this, which the House of Representatives will vote on next week. With true pricing, consumers see what the actual costs are of products, in which everything in the entire chain, plus the packaging impact, is calculated.

This can be a way to make sustainable choices more attractive to consumers. And for retailers to change their purchasing choices. However, in a time of high inflation, the real question is.. how feasible is this?