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Research and innovation

Towards sustainable food consumption

Promoting healthy, affordable and sustainable food consumption choices

About the topic

Making food systems sustainable is one of the main priority areas of action for the EU. Policies and actions are required to stimulate dietary changes by creating a more favourable food environment, in which the healthy and sustainable choice is the easy one. However, such policies cannot be successful unless consumers ultimately choose to buy healthy and sustainable products.

While many citizens may be willing to change the way they eat, their behaviour as consumers is formed and determined by multiple actors and aspects. Given the complexity of the food environment, information provision, fact-based education, and awareness campaigns are necessary, but on their own insufficient to achieve the required shift towards healthy and sustainable consumer choices.

In order to design effective evidence-based policies and actions, it is therefore necessary to better understand the barriers and effective enablers of change in consumers’ uptake of healthy and sustainable diets.

For these reasons, the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors has been mandated – in response to a request by the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety – to develop a scientific opinion that will recommend what tools could be used to overcome the barriers preventing consumers to adopt sustainable and healthy diets, fostering the necessary change towards sustainability in the food environment.

The Advisors launched their scientific opinion based on a scientific evidence review (including from social sciences) on 28 June 2023. This Scientific Opinion presents a set of recommendations for a mix of policy interventions to overcome the barriers that are preventing consumers from eating in a healthier and more sustainable way, which would complement the current initiatives under the Farm to Fork strategy.