Consumers expect food and drink manufacturers to be doing more to improve the environmental sustainability of products, according to a new survey by Leatherhead Food Research.

A survey of more than 1,000 UK shoppers, exclusively revealed to The Grocer, showed 56% had set dietary goals for 2020 driven by environmental sustainability concerns.

More than a third (34%) said they felt strongly that food manufacturers and retailers should be doing more to make products sustainable.

The research found 16 to 35-year-olds felt most strongly, with the figure rising to 38%.

However, the study also showed there was a recognition among consumers that they had a responsibility to make their own decisions, with a third (33%) acknowledging it was up to them to make changes to what they bought in order to achieve their goals.

Other dietary decisions among consumers for 2020 included respondents planning to buy more locally produced foods (31%) and cut down on red meat (27%).

The findings reflected consumers’ growing determination to act on real and perceived environmental issues linked to the food supply chain, said Emma Gubisch, Leatherhead’s head of consumer science.

“Today’s consumers are super-aware and more empowered than ever when it comes to making purposeful choices about what they eat and where they buy food. However, environmental sustainability is a highly complex matter and there is a lot of misinformation out there.”

She urged the food industry to proactively engage with consumers: “It’s important to understand what people think and what they expect, then track how this evolves over time. Combining this insight with strategic, long-term measures to improve sustainability credentials and supply chain transparency is the best way forward.