Consumers are more concerned about sustainability than ever. How do they feel about dairy’s impact on the world?

The pressures of the pandemic have not distracted Brits from caring about sustainability. Plastic waste and climate change still play on the minds of 62% and 59% of adults respectively, according to a survey of 1,039 UK adults by Harris Interactive for The Grocer.

In fact, no more than 8% of people have become less concerned about issues such as food waste and carbon emissions during Covid. And as many as 43% are actually more concerned.


These issues clearly weigh on many shoppers’ minds in the dairy aisle. The likes of animal welfare and deforestation have led to more than half (57%) of consumers reducing or cutting out dairy products, while 42% say they are cutting back on dairy. And only 12% believe UK dairy to be very sustainable.


Both men and women are concerned by sustainability issues in dairy, the data shows. Plastic waste topped the list of concerns for both genders, followed by climate change, carbon emissions and deforestation. Women are more likely to be concerned about animal welfare issues than men, the data suggests.


Whether this presents an opportunity for dairy alternatives remains a little unclear. Up to 35% of people regularly buy plant-based ‘milk’, ‘cheese’ and the like, while 20% have increased their consumption of such products in the past year or so. But a larger proportion, 64%, see alternatives overall as no more or less sustainable than regular dairy goods.


On the single products level, however, it’s better news for vegan ‘milk’. While 30% of Brits say cows milk is not all sustainable, no more than 15% said the same about alternatives made from almonds, oats, rice and soya.