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Trend: Consumers seek brands focused on sustainability, effecting climate change

Brands are incorporating their sustainability efforts on their packaging to be completely transparent about their carbon footprints.

Amanda Hartt, Researcher | Data Analyst | Strategic Thinker

September 19, 2022

3 Min Read
Purpose-driven commerce trend
Jason Schneider Illustration

The word "trend" is a tricky one. It implies not only what's happening now—what tendencies are driving consumers and where they're putting their dollars—but also what the market should consider for the future of manufacturing, stocking, merchandising and more.

We at New Hope Network believe it's critical to explore the "why" behind trends. (Yes, we too have been guilty of the occasional trend-spotting foible over the years: Spirulina lavender cricket bars, anyone?) The why, or "macro forces," are most relevant to shaping the future of natural products and have their origins in three paradigm-shifting "cultural forces" we identify as "Purpose-driven Commerce," "Holistic Health and Well-being" and "Modern Life." Zoom in even further and within these macro forces are more nuanced trends that help indicate how the industry is innovating.

The In the Aisle section of the Expo East 2022 edition of Natural Foods Merchandiser includes expert analysis from New Hope's editors, who provide in-depth commentary on 10 newer, still-emerging trends, as well as their market manifestations from Natural Products Expo East exhibitors. These trends provide a glimpse of where the market is going and which trends we predict will continue to shape it in the future.—Adrienne Smith

Related:Trend: Regenerative agriculture establishes trust through transparency

The breadth of factors that brands should consider when evaluating their sustainability goals and environmental impacts is vast. From packaging waste and water pollution to deforestation and soil erosion, there is a lot to communicate to consumers, particularly given that almost all sustainability issues lead to carbon emissions and climate change.

As brands find levers in the toolbox to help them account for and reduce or mitigate their carbon footprints, they are also discovering better and more efficient ways to bring consumers along on their sustainability journeys. Though brands sharing sustainability messaging on their websites is thankfully nothing new, brands are leading the trend towards full transparency about their carbon footprints by incorporating it in their brand identity and in some cases putting their sustainability efforts directly on their packaging. A great example of this is skin care brand CocoKind, which has gone so far as to print a Sustainability Facts Panel on its products that includes carbon emissions, geographic and ethical production values, packaging details and recycling instructions.

 Consumers seek brands focused on sustainability | Earth Science Naturals Apricot Night Cream | Neutral Foods Salted Butter

Earth Science Naturals Apricot Night Cream This skin-care brand is dedicated to ethically sourcing plant-based, sustainable ingredients to bring responsible formulas to consumers. In addition to the products being cruelty free, the company uses packaging that is designed to be recycled, including post-consumer recycled packaging; employs plastic-free packing materials and FSC-certified paper cartons; and supports ecological nonprofits including the Surfrider Foundation, the National Forest Foundation and Carbonfund. SRP: $19.99 Booth: Natural Products Virtual

Neutral Foods Salted Butter This carbon-neutral dairy brand puts its climate advocacy right on the box and in its name. Its website also takes consumers deeper into the journey of the brand's projects working with dairy farmers to achieve carbon neutral status. Details include Neutral's process to create a forage formula to reduce a cow's methane burps and to install manure management systems like aerobic composting strategies to reduce methane from cow manure. SRP: $4.99 Booth: 1715

Read more about brands' efforts to track and communicate their carbon emissions:

About the Author(s)

Amanda Hartt

Researcher | Data Analyst | Strategic Thinker

Amanda brings 10+ years of experience in research and consulting roles, working for both SPINS and New Hope Network to track and grow the natural products industry. With an MS in Food Policy, Amanda looks at the dimensionality of marketplace challenges to grow and transform food systems to build thriving communities.

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