When it comes to sustainable eating, Americans show a gap between aspirations and behaviors

Sodexo recently published the inaugural edition of its Sustainable Food Barometer which surveyed diners perceptions of sustainable eating.
Sustainable food
Price and taste are two of the biggest considerations for Americans when buying food. | Photo: Shutterstock.

Americans may place importance on sustainability when it comes to their beliefs, but their actual behaviors show a gap, according to Sodexo’s Sustainable Food Barometer.

The study, which was developed in collaboration with Harris Interactive, surveyed over 5,000 people in Brazil, France, the United Kingdom and the United States. The results found disparities between people’s perceptions of sustainable food and their corresponding behaviors.

The study found that almost three quarters of Americans expressed an urgent need to adopt sustainable eating, yet less so than other countries surveyed. In the U.S., 25-34 year old's and higher income earners showed the most positive perceptions on sustainable food while the 60+ age group and lower income earners showed less enthusiasm.

And six out of 10 Americans say they are already reducing food waste, while half say they buy local produce when they can.

But, when it comes to buying food, Americans prioritize price first, then taste. Environmental impact doesn’t seem to have as big of an influence. And Americans eat more meat, processed foods and oilseeds than people in other countries.

It also appears that Americans place less responsibility on citizens, compared to other stakeholders, in establishing a more sustainable food system.

Americans placed high importance on farmers to transition to a more sustainable food system but placed less importance on citizens and the agriculture-food industry, according to the study.