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April 29, 2021

Welcome to the Age of Climatarians

Tony Treadway

The Age of Climatarians article

It’s a multifaceted trend that won’t likely go away soon. For food manufacturers, restaurants, and new food startups this is a big deal.

While we sheltered in our homes during the pandemic gorging ourselves on comfort foods a significant number of us started think about “what is all of the food we eat do to the environment?” The result has been the emergence of a low carbon footprint diet that has vaulted to ranks third among the popular diets in America. Part of the concerns over climate change an understanding of the impact of food manufacturing on the environment can be sobering.

Datassential consumers found that climate change ranks third behind COVID-related healthcare concerns and the economy in 2021.

According to the Food for Climate League, 32% of all food produced is wasted. Making food waste, if it were a country, rank it as the third largest carbon emitter in the world behind the U.S. and China. Overall, the league claims that food production contributes 25% of all greenhouse emissions into the environment.

A Datassential consumer survey found that the low carbon/climatarian diet now ranks third among the most popular diets in the country.

In addition to carbon emissions, there is growing concern over packaging created in the food production process. According to packaging experts, office waste was reduced by 30% during the pandemic while residential waste grew by 15%. That’s a net reduction in landfill waste, but much of the new residential waste has been caused by packaging used to deliver food ordered from restaurants and supermarkets. The industry is at work on new types of recycling technologies involving packaging that may help. For now, landfill waste issues will soon be in the headlines.

Consumers bare some of the responsibility of the pandemic waste. Datassential says that 86% of consumers now prefer or like the use of single-serve condiment packaging. Think about the strain on the supply of ketchup packets that we’re helping client, Red Gold, address with operators and consumers that has made network news.

Meanwhile were helping another client address questions that may arise from their mariculture process. Their unique way of raising fish offers higher Omega 3 nutrients and is a better for the environment. Look for news about this amazing company later this year.

What Are We to Do About Climatarians?

How do we react to the rise of climatarians? If your brand positioning is on fresh, healthy foods, such as Chipotle, you turn up the volume. This chain is equating the impact of its menu on the environment. Chipotle understands its customers and by living up to their expectations, they are making Gen Z and Millennial customers feel good about eating there. Maybe that is why during the pandemic in 2020, Chipotle sales grew by 6.5% while competitors such as Starbucks (-13.5%) and Panera Bread (-10.5%) sales fell*.

Chipotle’s ordering app equates its menu’s impact on the world’s carbon footprint.
Here are 3 tips for winning on climate change and sustainability:

⦁ For any food company or restaurant that is actively looking for ways to reduce its carbon footprint and is making a positive difference, you should share what you are doing with consumers. Start a blog on your efforts or prepare a video and share it on social media. If you are a food manufacturer, think about adding an icon denoting your leadership and invite consumers to learn more on your website or through social. Make sure that your claims are rock solid and maintain a new level of transparency about your commitment, then share it with consumers.

⦁ If you haven’t looked at your carbon footprint or sustainability efforts, you should begin today. Contact your suppliers about their commitment to low carbon emission, sustainability and their treatment of their employees or contractors. Sniffing out problems upstream of your product now can avoid big problems down the road. This effort is worthy of significant effort and once you are bulletproof in your claims, make that commitment visible as we discussed in our first tip.

⦁ Once you have mastered the challenges of carbon emissions and sustainability, consider championing a social cause. Make the commitment more than simply writing a check. Get your employees involved in contributing their own talents to the cause, whether they or compensated or not, companies must prove that they do care and that your company’s existence as a food purveyor is a positive for feeding the world’s population.

Some of the great heroes of the pandemic are restaurants and food manufacturers. They kept us fed during one of the worst times in recent world history. The next challenge will involve your brand’s impact on the environment. The rise of the climatarians is simply an opportunity to build new consumer loyalty for your brand, because climatarians care a lot and they are making decisions now about brands that are more about the climate than the flavor of the food.

If you are ready to address the rise of the climatarians, we can help. Just let us know your challenge.

*Technomic, 2021