A recent survey of over 2,500 adults carried out by Upfield, the number one producer of margarines and spreads around the world, reveals how important Brits think it is to make environmentally friendly food purchasing decisions.

23% of the UK want to make positive environmental changes to their food purchasing habits, regardless of cost. However, this number jumps to half of the UK (50%), if it meant they did not have to spend more.

The good news is that there are cost effective and easy changes that people can make to their shopping habits. Margarine is a good alternative to dairy butter especially for the value conscious shoppers as the impact of the pandemic continues to have a knock on effect on people’s purse strings. Not only is margarine good for the purse or wallet, but it’s also a greener alternative to dairy butter.

Almost half of the UK population (45%) said they would buy margarine instead of dairy butter if they knew it was better for the environment. But the youth are leading the way, as 59% of 18–34-year-olds are particularly interested in making more tangible changes to benefit the environment when food shopping.

Regions that care the most

The findings show that a third (31%) of Londoners are keen to make positive, environmentally friendly changes to their food shopping purchases, regardless of cost. This is the highest percentage of any area in the UK, making the capital the most environmentally conscious population.

The least conscious area in the UK is the North West, with just one in five (20%) of residents interested in making environmentally friendly shopping decisions, regardless of the cost.

Old habits die hard 

We seem to be stuck in a rut of old habits, as 21.9 million (79%) households[1] in the UK still purchase dairy butter.

Only 1 in 10 of us actively purchase margarine to benefit the environment, where margarines tend to be less damaging than dairy butter.

Compared to the number of people looking to make more environmentally friendly changes irrelevant of price (23%), this significantly lower figure, points to a lack of awareness around the positive carbon footprint and sustainability attributes of margarine versus dairy butter.

What are the benefits?

In 2018, a Quantis Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study confirmed that in the United Kingdom, Upfield’s plant-based margarines and spreads have a 70% lower climate impact, occupy 58% less land, and use a third less water, than the production of the same amount of dairy butter.

If one of those 21.9 million households switched from dairy butter to a plant-based margarine for just a year, it could save 100 kg of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of driving a car for 250 miles.

The good news is that when they were told about the benefits of switching from dairy butter to margarine, 52% of respondents said they would consider changing their purchasing habits, and a further 29% said that they could move to margarine.

Damian Guha, General Manager of Upfield UK & Ireland said,Environmental issues are of increasing concern across the UK, and rightly so. With Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries and the recent release of programmes such as Seaspiracy, more and more people are becoming aware of the impact of their purchasing behaviours, and the impact that the food they eat has on the environment. 

We are proud to have put sustainable business practices at the heart of the spreads Upfield produces. It’s why we’ve made commitments such as introducing on-pack carbon labelling to 100 million packs of our products, globally, and why we’ve put rigorous process in place to ensure our product recipes and ingredient sourcing decisions are made with the environment in mind – balancing sustainability impact with providing the best possible taste, versatility and value for consumers.”

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