UK supermarkets fail to meet shoppers’ sustainability expectations, Rubikloud reveals

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Consumers are still worried that British supermarkets’ are not doing enough to go green, particularly around food and packaging waste, a report from Rubikloud, a global leader in retail artificial intelligence (AI), has revealed.

Original research of more than 3,000 European consumers in the 2019 European Grocery Data Report: What European grocery shoppers really want and how supermarkets can deliver it with AI showcases the extent of consumers high expectations.  81% of respondents said it’s important that retailers and food manufacturers reduce the amount of food and packaging waste, which ends up in landfill and oceans, in the next three years.

At a time when UK consumer spending growth has reached record lows, the 2019 European Grocery Data Report reveals the potential impact of the ‘green dollar’ for supermarkets who don’t – or won’t – address these concerns. 

More than half of all shoppers aged 16 – 34 say they feel guilty about shopping at supermarkets, indicating the amount of packaging waste produced by supermarket shopping is the key driver for this guilt.

More than half of respondents indicated they would spend more with a food retailer who has made a commitment to reducing food and packaging waste.  56% of UK shoppers said they are less likely to throw out food on the ‘use by’ date than they were three years ago as sustainability issues and education campaigns increasingly impact consumer behaviour.

The report revealed a high level of consumer understanding of the issues driving food waste in supermarkets. Shoppers identified technology as crucial to finding a solution, with more than half (56%) saying the most technologically advanced supermarkets will succeed in reducing waste. Two-fifths indicate supermarkets need to improve their stock forecasting capabilities and more than 50% said supermarkets should offer fewer price promotions (such as buy one, get one free) to reduce food and packaging waste.

“The environmental impact of food loss and packaging waste is a critical global issue,” said Kerry Liu, co-founder and CEO of Rubikloud.

Liu continued: “Retailers have long been challenged with the inefficiencies in their supply chains and promotional strategies, which lead to the product overstock and shrink that is a key consumer concern.  AI and machine learning has the power to help supermarkets be better environmental stewards and reduce waste by providing them with actionable insights and improved forecasting.”

For more insights and key takeaways for retailers looking to unleash the power of machine learning to yield more accurate forecasting and deliver more sustainable business practices, download the full report here.