Gaithersburg, Md., (January 16, 2024) In response to the escalating need for sustainable practices in the food industry, Sodexo, a global leader in sustainable food and valued experiences, proudly introduces the inaugural edition of the International Sustainable Food Barometer, developed in collaboration with Harris Interactive.

This exclusive study distinguishes itself through elevating the voices of respondents from diverse geographies and cultures, which offers unique insights into their perceptions, intentions, and behaviors related to sustainable food practices, which includes consuming sustainable products, reducing food waste, avoiding plastic packaging, and buying local products, as examples. 

Conducted in 2023 among more than 5,000 people in Brazil, France, the United Kingdom and the United States, this international barometer identifies and distinguishes the disparities between people's representations of sustainable food and their corresponding behaviors. The action-oriented study aims to identify obstacles and levers to induce changes in eating habits and accelerate the shift toward more sustainable diets.

Reported attitudes and perceptions of sustainable eating by over 1700 U.S. citizens who participated in the 2023 study showed geographic and demographic-specific attitudes and levers that can help motivate our country toward a more sustainable way of eating. We are encouraged to see that most Americans describe the need for a more sustainable way for eating as urgent (72%), and most also had a positive perception of sustainable food (66%).

“Sodexo aims to become the global leader in delivering sustainable food and valued experiences at every moment in life as we learn and play, work and heal. To better understand the global appetite for sustainable food, we launched the first international sustainable food barometer to gather insight into the aspirations, obstacles and concrete reasons associated with an individual’s adoption of sustainable eating,” said Sarosh Mistry, President & CEO, Sodexo North America. “This study showed Americans have a largely positive view of sustainable food, but there is opportunity to motivate more people in our country to overcome barriers to adopting a sustainable diet. These data points fuel our commitment to provide our consumers with healthy and enjoyable food that supports a Better Tomorrow.” 

The three key takeaways of the barometer

  1. Almost three quarters (72%) of Americans expressed an urgent need to adopt sustainable eating, yet still less than other countries surveyed.
    • The perception around sustainable food varied greatly across U.S. regions. More West coast/Pacific respondents (75%) had a positive perception of sustainable food compared to Midwest respondents (60%)
    • In the U.S., 25-34 year olds (74%) and higher income earners (71%) show the most positive perceptions on sustainable food, while the 60+ age group (58%) and lower income earners (62%) show less enthusiasm toward sustainable food.
    • 6 out of 10 U.S. citizens say they are already reducing food waste. Half declare they buy local produce when they can. 
    • 1 in 2 U.S. citizens consider adopting sustainable foods as more of a priority than saving money. 2 out of 3 respondents say they are willing to pay more to eat more sustainably. 
  2. There is a gap between aspirations and actual behaviors.

    • When it comes to buying food, Americans currently prioritize price first, then taste. Environmental impact and local origin are less crucial attributes.
    • In the U.S., dairy products, fresh vegetables, meat and bread are consumed most regularly. Americans eat more meat, processed foods and oilseeds than people in other countries.
    • Students seek to eat more sustainably at schools/universities (69%). Employees seek to eat more sustainably at work or a company café (49%).  
    • Americans follow the global trend in the barriers to adopting this type of diet by selecting price as the number one, though there are other barriers in terms of availability and taste. 
  3. U.S. citizens are motivated to adopt a more sustainable food diet as global: 

    • driven by the beneficial impact on health (46%) and
    • the fact that it saves money (35%). 

“At Sodexo, when we think of creating a better, more sustainable future, we believe in the power of the journey. This barometer highlights where on the journey the respondents are so that we can walk with them to motivate changes in their consumer habits,” said Jessica Synkoski, Vice President of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility for Sodexo North America.
Globally, Sodexo is fully committed to progress toward the goal of being the leader in sustainable food and has taken on the responsibility of positively influencing the food choices of the 80 million consumers it serves daily towards a more balanced and sustainable diet. Sodexo has identified four priority levers that will enable the reduction of its emissions by 90% by 2040 across its entire value chain, from farm to fork. These four levers include products (responsible supply chain), eating (providing low carbon menus), energy (kitchen efficiency), and waste (expanding the WasteWatch x Leanpath program and reducing material waste). In the U.S., Sodexo works toward these global goals and seeks to promote a sustainable diet wherever possible.

About Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 45 countries. Sodexo specializes in sustainable food service and valued experiences, in all 50 U.S. states, Canada, Puerto Rico and Guam, at every moment in life: learn, work, heal and play. Additionally, the company indirectly supports additional jobs through its annual purchases of goods and services from small to large businesses. Sodexo North America is committed to meeting the challenges of everyday life with a dual goal: to improve the quality of life of our employees and those we serve, and contribute to the economic, social and environmental progress in the communities where we operate. Our purpose is to create a better everyday for everyone to build a better life for all.

About Harris Interactive

Toluna and Harris Interactive, partners in agile research to design the world of tomorrow.
Toluna is revolutionizing the world of consumer and human insights by combining innovative technology with direct, real-time access to the world's largest research community.
Harris Interactive brings together best-in-class experts and supports all types of clients in making the right decisions, always one step ahead. The recent acquisitions of Gutcheck and MetrixLab demonstrate the Group's commitment to offering unrivalled research capabilities and supporting brands as they grow; on a global scale, thanks to 2,500 passionate talents.

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