The relevance of sustainability for the consumer in a food context: A segmentation analysis

F. Vanhonacker*, E.J. Van Loo, X. Gellynck, W. Verbeke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Current western food consumption is associated with a high ecological impact. A way to reduce this impact is to shift to more sustainable food choices. This study investigates consumer attitudes towards more sustainable food choices. The alternatives under study range from well-known meat substitutes to alternatives which are more radical or innovative and that require an adaptation of food habits and cultural patterns. Findings are based on responses of 221 Flemish consumers to a survey conducted in Spring 2011. Results revealed an underestimation of the ecological impact of animal production. Further consumers accepted well-known alternatives such as organic meat, moderation of meat consumption and sustainable fish, although their willingness to pay was pronouncedly lower than their willingness to consume. Consumers were more reluctant to alternatives that (partly) ban or replace meat. Opportunities of introducing insects were non-existent. A segmentation analysis based on selfevaluated ecological footprint and personal relevance of the ecological footprint revealed five consumer segments, termed Conscious, Active, Unwilling, Ignorant and Uncertain. Each segment is defined in terms of demographics, attitudinal and behavioral characteristics. Opportunities for sustainable food choices in each segment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Ethics of Consumption
Subtitle of host publicationThe Citizen, the Market and the Law
EditorsHelena Röcklinsberg, Per Sandin
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9789086867844
ISBN (Print)9789086862313
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Consumers
  • Ecological footprint
  • Meat substitutes
  • Segmentation
  • Sustainability


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