Initiative brings together Google, Sainsbury’s, Hilton Worldwide, Quorn and more to promote sustainable food consumption

WASHINGTON, DC (August 11, 2016)–Consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom increasingly say they want to eat food that’s better for themselves and the environment. According to one study, three quarters of Americans think it’s important that the food they buy is sustainable. In Britain, close to half of those they surveyed across the food industry in 2013 said their customers want more sustainable food options.

However, shopping and eating are habitual processes and change is not always easy for consumers to make.

To solve this problem, World Resources Institute announces that it is convening the Better Buying Lab – a new initiative focused on researching and catalyzing action that enables consumers to buy more sustainable foods. The Better Buying Lab brings together the brightest and best minds from consumer research, behavioral economics and marketing strategy, along with companies in the food industry, to research, test and ultimately scale new strategies and actions that help consumers buy more sustainable products.

“If we want to feed a growing population without straining natural resources, we have to do more than change mindsets; we have to change diets,” said Dr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute. “An increasing number of people want to make more sustainable choices about what they eat, and the Better Buying Lab will help make it happen.”

“With the Better Buying Lab, we’ve developed a fresh approach to help people eat more sustainable food,” said Daniel Vennard, Director of the Better Buying Lab, World Resources Institute. “By engaging a diverse group of marketing experts and industry partners, we aim to create innovative strategies that help consumers choose what’s good for their families and the environment.”

Vennard joined WRI and the Better Buying Lab following a 15-year career working on sustainability and marketing within the private sector.

WRI’s recent report Shifting Diets confirmed that information campaigns on their own are often insufficient at changing mainstream shopping behavior on a large scale. Information is helpful, but most consumers purchase food based on habits and other factors like what they see when they enter a store. The Better Buying Lab seeks creative new solutions that work in line with how an average person actually shops.

Focusing first on the challenge of helping consumers choose more plant-based foods, the Better Buying Lab is convening food manufacturers, food service companies and research organizations to identify the most effective ways of engaging consumers. Several companies have been involved from its inception, including Google, Sainsbury’s, Hilton Worldwide, Quorn, and Triniti Marketing. More firms are expected to join the Better Buying Lab in fall 2016.

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Michiel Bakker, Director of Google Food:
“What we choose to eat has an enormous impact on our environment, but there’s more we can learn about how to enable people to make more sustainable food choices. At Google, we are excited to partner with the Better Buying Lab to share what we've learned, try out new ideas, and advance conversations and actions that will help people adopt sustainable lifestyles.”

Maxime Verstraete, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility, Hilton Worldwide:
“At Hilton we serve over a million meals every single day across more than 100 countries. We know those guests desire authentic and sustainably sourced ingredients. Becoming a founding member of the Better Buying Lab is part of our commitment to continually explore innovative ways to deliver exceptional experiences, every hotel, every guest, every time, whilst managing our impact on the environment.”

Andrew Ritchie, Category Technical Manager Bakery and Cafe at Sainsbury's:
“We’re always looking for ways to evolve our offering to meet the needs of our customers and support sustainable lifestyles. We look forward to the Better Buying Lab helping us innovate new ways of doing this.”

Karen Davies, Managing Partner, Triniti Marketing:
“Consumer behavior is complex and often unconscious, but we’re uncovering new ways to understand how people actually make decisions. As a member of the Better Buying Lab, Triniti’s insights will help to develop new strategies to engage consumers and drive large-scale change toward sustainable food choices.”

The Better Buying Lab is supported by the KR Foundation.