In the corona crisis, the Dutch drank a remarkable amount of sustainable tea

At supermarket chain Jumbo, organic fruit and vegetables are plastic-free in the store.Image Dutch Height / ANP

This increase continues the trend that has started in recent years. The Dutch are opting for a sustainable option for an increasing part of their shopping. In 2013, an average of 8 percent of the purchases made by consumers in supermarkets was sustainable. In recent years, this percentage has steadily increased: from 12 percent in 2016 to 19 percent last year.

The catering closure boosted general supermarket sales, Wageningen University and Statistics Netherlands concluded in a study that they carried out on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. Last year, cafes and restaurants were only allowed to deliver or have takeout meals for five months. But the adage ‘one person’s death is another’s bread’ does not explain the full growth in sales of sustainable food at supermarkets, according to the researchers.

The consequences of the catering closure can be seen most clearly in coffee and tea sales. The total turnover of sustainable coffee and tea fell by 19 percent last year. But for home use, consumers actually bought more of these products: in the sustainable supermarket segment, the two hot drinks were the biggest risers with 34 percent turnover growth. Spending on sustainable tea in the supermarket even increased by 75 percent.

Last year, people ate and drank out of necessity less often. Supermarket spending on sustainable frozen and ready meals rose by more than half in 2020. The same goes for sustainable preserves, frozen fruit and vegetables.

Furthermore, it appears that the turnover of sustainable potatoes, fruit and vegetables, bread, cereals, cakes and pastries, eggs and dairy products increased by approximately 30 percent. The turnover of non-sustainable products was often lower.

The only sustainable product for which the researchers found a decline in sales was beef. Almost 13 percent less was sold than a year earlier.

Supermarkets are the most important sales channels for sustainable food in the Netherlands, in addition to catering and organic specialty stores. The researchers base themselves on scanner data, data obtained at store checkouts. They include food products with a quality mark with independent control under sustainable food.

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