Biodiversiteit in de supermarkt: Staan we er echt bij stil?
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Biodiversity in the Supermarket: Do We Truly Consider It?

  • 13 December 2023

Do products fly off the shelves when they are produced in a way that positively impacts biodiversity? Or does the consumer remain indifferent? Communication scientists Julia Shen and Marijn Poortvliet from Wageningen University delve into the choices consumers make in the supermarket.

The current food system needs to change to preserve biodiversity and ensure food security. Julia Shen emphasizes that this change is not solely the responsibility of farmers; the entire chain must undergo transformation. Currently, the consumer side remains a mystery, and Shen and Poortvliet question whether altering consumer behavior should be the starting point.

Abstract Notions of Biodiversity and Consumer Choices

Biodiversity proves to be an abstract concept for consumers, ranging from descriptions of plants and animals to concerns about its current state. In group discussions with urban and rural residents, researchers explored what consumers associate with biodiversity and how it influences their supermarket choices.

Consumer as the Key? Not Really

While the notion that the consumer holds the key to change is popular, Shen and Poortvliet temper this perspective. They distinguish between the citizen and the consumer, with the latter being driven by immediate needs and limited information in the supermarket. Adding more labels doesn't seem to be the automatic solution; real change requires an understanding of the link between nature and food production.

The focus remains on the supermarket as the decision-making hub, yet Shen and Poortvliet advocate for broader societal engagement. They suggest that an experience of the nature-food production connection, as seen in farm shops and picking gardens, could be more effective than additional labels. However, they emphasize that not everyone has access to such experiences, and the role of government and citizens in steering change remains essential.

While survey and focus group results provide a deeper understanding of consumer considerations, a media analysis is on the horizon. Shen hopes to gain insight into the role media plays in shaping the narrative about biodiversity, food, and consumer choice.

Source: WUR