How much do Western New York consumers really know about the snacks and beverages they consume? Some attributes like price, convenience and taste are relatively easy to determine, but whether an item was produced in an environmentally sustainable way is a lot harder to figure out.
In addition to taste (86 percent), price (68 percent) and convenience (57 percent), the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2019 Food and Health Survey determined that sustainability (54 percent) is an important factor when it comes to making a purchasing decision.
Unfortunately, those 54 percent of participants have different interpretations about what makes a product environmentally sustainable, creating some confusion. The following list includes the top six interpretations of environmentally sustainable.
- locally produced products: 51 percent
- products labeled as sustainably produced: 47 percent
- products labeled as non-GMO/not bio-engineered: 47 percent
- products labeled as organic: 44 percent
- products that have recyclable packaging: 41 percent
- products that have minimal packaging: 35 percent
With 63 percent of the survey participants also agreeing that it is hard to know if a product is environmentally sustainable, the confusion about the definition of environmentally sustainable makes sense. But a definition does exist. According to the U.N.’s Brundtland Commission on sustainable development, “sustainable development [meets] the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
To determine if snacks or beverages are sustainable look for the following certifications: USDA Organic, Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane Raised and Handled, Fair Trade USA Certified and Rainforest Alliance Certified. Another approach is to learn about a brand and the specific types of ingredients that brand uses. If an employee trusts a brand and is familiar with the types of ingredients that a brand uses, they are more likely to purchase that brand’s snacks and beverages.
Western New York employers can help ensure that environmentally sustainable products are available for their employees by including micro-markets or vending machines with healthy options, a variety of coffees and sustainable paper products in their break room. Sirness Vending Services makes that even easier for local businesses by offering a variety of healthy snacks, beverages, fresh food and delicious coffees. For more information about our menu, please call us at 585-594-9000.