Sustainability is a familiar concept for Lithuanians. According to a survey carried out on behalf of AUGA group, as many as 88% of Lithuanians who live in the country’s major cities say they understand what sustainability means. Furthermore, 71% say that they would be willing to change their consumption habits if they were sure that the products they were purchasing met sustainability criteria.
“This sustainability perception study has been carried out by our company for 3 consecutive years. We monitor how consumers understand sustainability, how this understanding correlates with consumer behaviour, and which brands consumers perceive to be sustainable. Recent studies show that this year respondents are able to identify sustainability in a much more precise way. If in the past people associated the concept of sustainability with stability, this year respondents first listed the preservation of nature and its resources, the ecology, and sorting or recycling,” said Gediminas Judzentas, Director of Marketing and Sustainability at AUGA group.
According to G. Judzentas, similar results can be seen in surveys conducted in other countries. It is clear that people are observing what is happening in the world and are concerned about climate change. According to him, these issues were also highlighted as a result of the attention paid by European and national institutions and businesses towards sustainability, and efforts made to educate the public on this topic. However, it is not enough – business representatives say that the tendency to choose sustainable products is still not strongly reflected in actual consumption habits.
Liudvikas Aleliūnas, Head of Social Responsibility at Rimi Baltic, noted that buyers view its range of more sustainable products positively, are interested in the origin of products, and are looking for goods that are made locally in Lithuania. However, clearer communication would increase consumer interest in more sustainable products.
“There is definitely a need for sustainable products, and in Rimi stores almost every category of products has an organic alternative. During the quarantine, we noticed a significant increase in sales of organic fruit and vegetables. In addition, sales from our Vikis farmer markets, which can be found in our stores and feature locally-produced products, have also increased dramatically. Comparing the first six months of this year with the same period last year, sales have increased by 18%. This number shows that the demand for Lithuanian production is increasing, and that buyers have been discovering these goods and buy them willingly.
However, we also see that people are not sure why an organic product should have a higher price point. We, the manufacturers and traders, know all the production processes for organic products and the various certificates that are required, but they mean little to a simple buyer. Thus, clearer and simpler communication on organic products would certainly help buyers make more environmentally friendly decisions,” said L. Aleliūnas. He added that the consumption of sustainable products will increase in the future as suppliers who produce conventional goods will begin to offer more and more sustainable products. Their production and operation will be based on the principles of sustainable business.
The survey also looked at whether respondents believe that CO2 emissions are a major problem in the food industry. 87% said they supported this statement, while 48% think they would pay more for products that address the issue of emissions.
“It is only natural that the public’s choices with regard to products depend primarily on the impact that it will have on their health, and only after that, the impact on the environment. However, such a high consumer understanding of the pollution caused by food production, along with their willingness to pay more for products that generate less CO2, indicates that changes in this system are needed. Businesses need to seek solutions to reduce their environmental impact, thus responding to consumer needs,” said G. Judzentas.
The sustainability perception study was carried out by the KOG Institute on behalf of AUGA group. Residents of three major cities (Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipėda) aged between 25 – 60 years were surveyed. The survey involved people who have completed a higher education and have an income of €700 or more per capita.