Sustainability Trends: Global Market Overview

Explore how Innova’s market research reveals the latest trends in sustainability

April 11, 2024 – Recent research conducted by Innova has allowed for a new look into current sustainability trends within the food and beverage industry. Prominent rising phenomena, such as upcycling and regenerative agriculture are discussed, alongside the most common claims, products, and consumer interests within the industry.

Sustainability Market Overview 

Sustainability trends research shows new products developed with a sustainability claim have increased substantially in the past few years. Between 2018 and 2023, the number of food and beverage launches with an ethical or environmental claim rose by 13.8%. Europe is the strongest region for new products with ethical or environmental claims, producing over half of the products in this category.

Dairy is the leading category with ethical or sustainability claims, ahead of confectionery, hot drinks, soft drinks, and bakery. The top fast-growing categories are chocolate bars, hot beverages, and chocolate confectionery, supported by the increasing number of cocoa sustainability programs.

When looking at the top five ethical or environmental claims seen on new products, Organic sits at the top, followed by no additives or preservatives, gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian.

Positively Imperfect Sustainability Efforts 

Resource-related sustainability claims are the most likely to influence consumer purchasing decisions, such as recycled materials, biodegradable packaging and reusable materials, and eco-friendly.

Three in four consumers agree that companies should be more efficient with the use of natural resources. Packaging claims follow this consumer demand, with an 82% increase in reduced water use claims, and a 26% increase in clean energy use claims, both in the past five years.

Consumers also care about companies’ waste management, with 29% stating that they would like to see brands reduce waste in the manufacturing process. Possibly in response, brands can be seen implementing more “imperfect” ingredients to showcase their sustainability. In Oswald’s Concord Grape Chia Smash Superfood Jam uses “Up Cycled” imperfect blueberries, that are claimed as good for you, and good for the planet.

sustainability trends

Upcycling Food Waste 

Sustainability trends research shows a growing trend in both consumers and brands focused on upcycling as a practice. On the consumer side, when asked which environmentally minded choices they will make to reduce spending, the number two choice was recycling or upcycling products, and the first was minimizing food waste. On the brand side, there has been an 83% increase in products with upcycling claims in the past year.

Upcycling is also a growing trend in social media, with two million views of the #upcycledfood hashtag on TikTok, and over 8,000 posts with the same hashtag on Instagram. Some companies advertise their upcycled snacks on social media, such as Rind Snacks, who makes dried fruit chips with discarded peels and rinds. One of their post’s states, “Edgy, Upcycled Snacks,” and that they “Fight Food Waste.”

One brand that utilizes upcycling as the foundation of their appeal is Supplant. They make products such as cookies, chocolate, and pasta from typically wasted agriculture side streams, such as straw, stalks, and cobs of various crops. They claim to use a sugar derived from these sources that offers “fewer calories, a lower glycemic index, and prebiotic benefits,” alongside its sustainable attributes.

Sustainably Farming the Future 

Consumers are looking for their products to be made through natural and sustainable innovative farming practices. One in two consumers globally agree that the use of advanced technology is more sustainable than traditional farming methods.

Regarding the different types of innovative farming practices, consumers feel most positively towards regenerative farming, followed by precision farming, and weather tracking. Companies are taking notice of consumer interest in regenerative agriculture, with the past five years showing an increase of 64% in regenerative agriculture claims on products. Specific brands such as Nestlé and ADM are investing more into regenerative agriculture for ingredient production as well.

What’s Next in the Sustainability Space? 

Clear communication has emerged as a vital method for companies to gain consumers’ trust. Sustainability trends research shows 53% of global consumers agree that there are too many environmental labels, causing them to not know what to look for. To tackle this, clear labeling and certifications on products can be helpful. Additionally, the EU has begun cracking down on greenwashing, which is partly to blame for the labeling confusion. In the future, the EU plans to outlaw misleading environmental claims on consumer-packaged goods.

The close association between ethical and environmental claims also displays potential. In the last three years, products with packaging that combined human-centric ethical claims with environmental claims increased in production by 36%. For instance, on Lebensbaum Organic Womens Herbal Teabags Gently Flavored with Hawthorn, both “climate neutral” and “sustainable” claims are seen alongside “social” and “fair.”

Making sustainability more affordable is another powerful way companies can promote their environmentally friendly products. With one in five consumers compromising on purchasing sustainable products to pay a lower price, some brands are already responding, using claims such as “sustainable and affordable.”


This article is based on our report, “New Product Trendspotting: Latest Global Trends in Sustainability.”
If you are interested in reading this report, feel free to request a demo. You can do this by either booking a demo or using our Contact Form.

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