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Two-thirds of Gen Z believe that food production needs to be more sustainable. The findings have been revealed in an EIT Food-commissioned study. More than 2,000 individuals were polled, each being aged between 18-24. Participants were from the UK, France, Germany, Poland, and Spain.
Data released from Belgium-based EIT’s Gen Z survey shows that young adults see food production as a major cause of the climate crisis. Seventy-eight percent of those polled agreed that food needs to be more sustainable, with 61 percent identifying processes as having gotten less earth-friendly in recent years. Most notably, 66 percent of those asked agree that food consumption and production trends are: “destroying the planet and that the situation is only getting worse.”
Next generation voices
Looking at generational attitudes, Gen Z appears to consider itself more cognisant, with 65 percent thinking older people care less about food. 64 percent claimed to use sustainability credentials more in the past 12 months, when choosing what to buy.
Imported foods were deemed generally unsustainable by 50 percent of the group while 74 percent felt locally produced items are amongst the best choices. Organic farming and plant-based foods also faired positively in Gen Z perceptions, gaining 72 and 70 percent sustainability approval ratings respectively.
These statistics align with the idea that this is a generation of climate activists.
Planning for the future
The findings have been revealed in support of EIT’s The Menu for Change. A pseudo-manifesto designed to improve sustainability in agrifood systems, it showcases young voices. 10 Gen Z ‘thought leaders’ have given their opinions and are in place to ensure that Gen Z is presented to food industry stakeholders.
The Menu for Change has included targets for the agrifoods industry. It has set an ambitious goal of 25 percent of land to be managed regeneratively, by 2030. It also calls for uniform labelling throughout the EU and food production to be taught as part of school curriculums. Food waste in supermarkets has been highlighted, with a particular focus on bio-based packaging.
“In a crucial year for global climate talks, we need the next generation, who will be most affected by the climate crisis, to have a seat at the table in shaping a future-fit food system. We know that the world cannot achieve its goal of limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees [Celsius] without addressing global food systems, yet food could have been more prominent on the agenda at COP26. That is why [EIT Food has] brought together 10 young FutureFoodMakers to represent young people across Europe, and make their views, needs and recommendations known,” said EIT Food CEO Andy Zynga.
Food production on the menu
Speaking before the COP26 event, UN Food Systems Summit Special Envoy, Dr. Agnes Kalibata said: ‘We have learnt that people around the world are ready for this and are willing to mobilise. To this end, we have together set off on the right track with great momentum. A better future for this generation, the next and those to come is within reach if the world seizes the opportunity and transforms food systems for the better.”
While the study findings confirm that Gen Z is onboard and ‘willing to mobilise’ with implementing sustainable food practices, COP26 proved a disappointment to many.
All images courtesy of Unsplash.