Many brands recognise the need for sustainability, but a new study confirms the issue’s commercial importance because 23% more US consumers now say they prioritise sustainability in their food and drink choices compared to last year.

That is according to findings in the Food & Beverage Sustainability Trends 2020 Report by Tastewise, an Israeli tech firm which uses artificial intelligence to predict future food trends through analysis of social media, real-time data, as well as restaurant menus and home recipes.

Specifically, the company analysed data from some two billion online social interactions, more than three billion online recipes and the menus of 274,000 restaurants, The Times of Israel reported.

It emerged that health (39%) remains the main reason why American consumers are interested in sustainability when it comes to food and drink, although this is down 16% year-on-year, as other concerns gain in importance.

For example, 15% of consumers now cite local sourcing, up 17% since last year, while recycling (13%, up 4%), waste (8.5%, up 20%) and climate change (3%, up 2%) all feature as issues that concern them.

Yet despite the animal industry’s huge impact on the environment, Tastewise found that only 10% of discussions in its analysis involve meat, while animal rights (1%) barely feature at all.

However, the researchers did see a rise in online conversations about meat alternatives and an increase in discussions on the use of seafood in sustainable recipes.

They also found that sustainable packaging options, such as for takeaway cups and boxes, make restaurants significantly more popular among consumers on social media. Restaurants that advertise their use of these products see a marked increase in consumer interest, the report said.

Other growing trends include sustainable dark chocolate and cocoa beans, coffee, healthy waffles and oats, and sustainable juice and smoothies.

And turning to fish and seafood, pollock appears on 80% of sustainable seafood menus, oysters are the fastest growing topic online, while salmon is the most discussed sustainable seafood.

Sourced from Tastewise, The Times of Israel; additional content by WARC staff