Survey indicates Canadians willing to make shifts towards more sustainable food choices

Montreal, QC, January 17, 2024 – Today Sodexo Canada releases the results of its first-ever Sustainable Food Barometer. This new research reveals the sustainable food habits and intentions of Canadians, as well as the current disparities between their aspirations and behaviours. As both observer and influencer of consumer food consumption patterns, Sodexo Canada’s aim is to accelerate change across the entire food ecosystem. 

The survey of more than 1,500 Canadians conducted by Leger in December 2023 delivers insights with comparisons to the results of Sodexo’s International Sustainable Food Barometer survey conducted by Harris Interactive, which polled over 5,000 people in Brazil, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The Barometer identifies current trends and obstacles, as well as the narratives and incentives needed to induce changes in eating habits and support consumers in making the shift towards more sustainable diets.

“Sodexo Canada is committed to reducing our environmental impact through offering more sustainable food choices, and sourcing, preparing and serving them in more enjoyable and sustainable ways,” says Sodexo Canada CEO Johanne Bélanger. “We encourage Canadians to join us for the health benefits and cost savings, as well as the ultimate benefit of limiting climate change.”

Three key takeaways of the Sodexo Food Sustainability Barometer:  

1. Canadians are well aware of the urgent need to change eating habits and have aspirations to do so. 

  • Nearly 9 out of 10 Canadians (87 percent) believe adopting more sustainable behaviours is an urgent matter, compared to 79 percent globally. This is the same across all income categories, and recognition of urgency is highest in those aged 18-24 (98 percent).
  • The majority of Canadians say they have already adopted some sustainable food habits: 75 percent say they reduce their household food waste, 68 percent eat seasonal produce, and 56 percent buy local produce whenever possible. These are comparable to global trends (71 percent; 63 percent; 55 percent). 
  • Many Canadians are ready to or have already adopted several other sustainable practices with 86 percent reducing their consumption of processed foods, 82 percent avoiding plastic packaging by choosing bulk foods or using reusable bags, and 79 percent wishing to consume sustainably produced products whenever possible.

2. There’s a gap between intentions and actions.

  • While strong, the feeling of urgency and the desire to change come up against financial considerations and entrenched eating habits, both in Canada and globally. 
  • Changes that Canadians are prepared to make are more about reduction or adjustments than in-depth transformations. 
  • When shopping for groceries, price is the most important factor for Canadians: 91 percent selected price as a top 5 most important factor, followed by taste (72 percent) and nutritional value (67 percent). The least important factor among Canadians was the product’s environmental impact (21 percent). 
  • Three-quarters (74 percent) of Canadians say they don’t have the desire, or intention or don’t know if they would give up meat. Two-thirds (67 percent) don’t want to give up fish and over half (54 percent) say the same about dairy. This is substantially higher than the global average (meat: 42 percent; fish: 45 percent). 
  • However, progress is seen in the willingness of Canadians to reduce their consumption of animal proteins in favour of plant proteins (46 percent) and reduce their consumption of dairy products (46 percent). Globally, in the event of a reduction in meat consumption, readjustments would occur but without major diet upheavals.

3.  The individual benefits of sustainable food choices are more motivating than the collective benefits for society, but not exclusively. 

  • The primary motivation for eating more sustainably in Canada, and in all countries, is the expected health benefits (52 percent Canada / 46 percent global), followed by the expected financial savings (49 percent Canada / 35 percent global, except Brazil).
  • Canadians want agency in choosing sustainability. They are more likely to be persuaded by the desire to contribute to Canada’s food autonomy (29 percent), and to role model for future generations (22 percent) than they are by changes to law or imposed regulations (13 percent).

“Sodexo Canada is continuously working to improve how and what we serve Canadians, conscious of our role as leaders and our environmental impact,” says Sodexo Canada CSR Senior Sustainability Manager Davide Del Brocco. “The Sustainable Food Barometer helps us better understand how consumers think about making sustainable choices and how we can continue to support progressive change, making tasty, healthy meals that reduce our impact on the planet across the entire food ecosystem.” 

Sodexo Canada takes responsibility for positively influencing the million consumers it serves daily towards a more balanced, delicious, and sustainable diet. The first global food services company to align its objectives with limiting global temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, Sodexo has identified four priority levers that will enable it to reduce its emissions by 34% by 2025 across its entire value chain, from field to fork. These include sustainable sourcing and delivering local products, designing and offering more plant-based recipes, optimizing energy use, and expanding the WasteWatch program to reduce food waste.

Survey Methodology 

A survey of 1,545 Canadians was completed online between December 1-3, 2023, using Leger’s online panel. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20. 

About Sodexo Canada

Sodexo is the leader in sustainable food service and valued experiences, at every moment in life: learn, work, heal and play. Sodexo is committed to meeting the challenges of everyday life with a dual goal: to improve the quality of life of our employees and those we serve, and to contribute to the economic, social and environmental progress in the communities where we operate. Our purpose is to create a better everyday for everyone to build a better life for all. Sodexo has been recognized as a top employer in Canada for the past seven consecutive years.

Key figures – Sodexo Canada 

  • Recipient of Canada's Greenest Employer Awards 2023
  • RE 100 Achievement (renewable energy) for scope 2 emissions in 2021 
  • Recipient of Canada's Diversity & Inclusion Employer Awards 2021 
  • Global Ecovadis Platinum Rating 2020 
  • 1 million consumers served daily 
  • 7000 employees 

To learn more about our sustainability values, practices and partnerships visit Sodexo’s Corporate and Social Responsibility commitments and progress. 

For more information: 

Stephanie Aubin, Director of Communications
Sodexo Canada


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