In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers continue to show a preference for sustainable products and an increased interest in buying local. Read more about why U.S. soy meets the demand, and the overwhelming support consumers have shown for U.S. farmers during the pandemic.
A call to support U.S. farmers
In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Soybean Board (USB) launched www.SupportUSFarmers.com, resulting in a striking response from consumers. In the beginning of May, the nation was turned upside down: April brought the highest unemployment rate recorded in American history, with 23.1 million Americans out of work, and concerns surrounding food security surged. USB called for consumers to take the pledge to support U.S. farmers by purchasing products made with U.S. grown ingredients. In just under four months, over 7,500 consumers have taken the pledge.
Alongside many other American farmers who were deemed as essential workers, U.S. soybean farmers continued planting this spring for the 2020 harvest. Today, soy farmers continue working to provide a vital supply of safe, sustainable ingredients to people around the world while keeping sustainability at the forefront of their practices. Likewise, recent studies show that purchasing sustainable products remains at the forefront for consumers – with an increasing demand for products using sustainable, locally sourced ingredients.
Demand for sustainable products is increasing
With financial and health concerns taking the lead in conversations, many CPG marketers are wondering how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting consumer preference towards sustainability. The response may surprise you: recent studies have shown an increase in demand for sustainable products during the pandemic – indicating that a sustainable lifestyle is here to stay. Here's what you need to know:
- A recent Boston Consulting Group study conducted in July reports that 76% of respondents think environmental issues are as concerning or more concerning than health issues.
- Nearly half (46%) of those who say they live in areas hit hard by COVID-19 claim they've been thinking more about sustainability, while 43% of Americans who've been laid off, furloughed or seen job disruption say they would still pay more for sustainable products. (SynBioBeta)
- Nearly six months into the pandemic, Mintel's Impact of COVID-19 on U.S. Consumers report found that more than a quarter of consumers have felt compelled to prioritize support of local communities. At the same time, those consumers are demanding greater transparency and access to sourcing. (Mintel, July-Aug 2020)
- "Made in the USA" ranked as the top claim for labels in a recent Datassential study. Importantly, almost all consumers who felt it was important before the pandemic still consider this claim important.
- Accenture data shows that consumers have high expectations for businesses to act responsibly: 67% of consumers agree or significantly agree that companies will 'build back better' by investing in longer-term, sustainable and fair solutions.
Committing to sustainability is key
The increasing consumer commitment to sustainability has major implications for the food industry – and elevating focus and transparency on green initiatives will help companies come out on top as the pandemic progresses towards recovery. Putting domestically sourced, sustainable ingredients like U.S. soy on menus and labels is a good place to start.
Consumers don't just want companies to talk-the-talk, they expect real change for real results. Here's what U.S. soybean farmers are doing to protect and conserve our land.
- Reducing impact: Soybeans are sustainable, contributing to a cleaner label and lower carbon footprint. By leveraging U.S. grown soybeans' shorter supply chain, the food industry reduces its carbon footprint and transportation costs.
- Strengthening local economies: 97% of U.S. farms are family-owned. Supporting American farmers and their families strengthens local economies.
- Relying on U.S. soy: During these uncertain times, a dependable food supply is more important than ever. Soybeans are one of the top two largest crops grown on U.S. soil. Eighty acres of U.S. soybeans means soy protein and soybean oil are always readily available to meet ingredient needs.
U.S. grown soybeans are an ingredient people can trust, from tofu and miso to soy milk and soybean oil. Food companies can trust in the reliable supply of soy-based ingredients year-to-year. Consumers can trust that foods made with U.S. grown soy are produced in a way that preserves our environment for future generations. And everyone can trust that U.S. soybean farmers are hard at work providing quality, sustainable ingredients to feed our communities now, and always.