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Fewer grocery shoppers show interest in sustainability

Fewer grocery shoppers show interest in sustainability
Fewer grocery shoppers show interest in sustainability

Grocery retailers are being urged to make “bold actions” towards sustainability. A new consumer research study from McKinsey and Company shows little progress in this field. With Earth Day being observed, fewer customers are showing interest in being continuous about sustainability in grocery shopping. 

“The share of consumers who want to buy products that are more sustainable in the next 12 months decreased by one percentage point from 2023,” the study found. 

This year’s Earth Day takes place on Monday, April 22, under the theme of planet vs plastics. According to Vogue, 380 million tonnes of plastic are manufactured yearly, while only 9% of all the plastic on the earth has been recycled. There are now calls for a 60% reduction in plastic usage by 2040.

Delivery sector’s contribution to plastic

The delivery sector is one of the biggest culprits of plastic usage, primarily through packaging. While the demand for online shopping and deliveries grows, so does the need to wrap items in plastic. 

Some have now resorted to using recyclable materials or reducing the layers of plastic used by different companies. 

Amazon, the world’s largest e-commerce retailer, is constantly trying to innovate to reduce its carbon footprint and usage of plastic to wrap parcels. 

In 2022, Amazon decreased single-usage plastic delivery packaging by more than 11% across the globe. That same year, it shipped 11% of its orders globally without additional Amazon wrapping. 

Late last year, Amazon also dropped its extra box wrapping in Australia. The aim is to reduce the weight of outbound packaging per shipment by 41%, which will, at the same time, eliminate over 2 million tons of packaging material. 

Buying sustainable groceries 

The research found that Generation Z and millennials have high intentions to buy more environmentally friendly products this year. However, “the window of opportunity to reach 2025 sustainability targets is closing.” 

One of Australia’s most popular grocery stores, Woolworths, has two goals as part of its ambitious sustainability plan that are not far from its deadline:

  • Goal 1: Zero food waste to landfill sites by 2025.
  • Goal 2: 100% green electricity by 2025.

The McKinsey report recognizes that there are still “sizable gaps to close” for many grocers to reach their targets. “We therefore expect to see accelerated sustainability efforts across the industry in 2024.”

Online grocery growth

“We expect e-grocery to grow faster than the overall grocery market over the next few years,” indicates the report. 

The online grocery industry is growing, and its lost market share in 2023 is returning. McKinsey and Company says this comes as consumers are starting to return to their old spending habits. 
The prediction is that more food will be purchased online, as much as 8% in the first quarter of 2024. “Meal delivery from restaurants might grow even faster than e-grocery.”

Credit: Graphics – McKinsey and Company

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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