Irish consumers have a slightly more positive perception of bio-based products than their Dutch counterparts, according to research. Results show 93% of respondents from Ireland and 81% of respondents from the Netherlands indicating that they prefer to buy bio-based products instead of fossil-based ones.
Price was identified as the main deterrent, but around half of the participants in the study were willing to pay a bit more for bio-based products.
The research was carried out by BIOSWITCH, a European project that seeks to raise awareness among brand owners and to encourage them to use bio-based instead of fossil-based ingredients in their products.
The study consisted of a quantitative survey among 18–75-year-old consumers in Ireland and the Netherlands to understand consumer perspectives concerning bio-based products. The results were analysed, compared, and compiled in the peer-reviewed paper: Understanding Consumer Perspectives of Bio-Based Products—A Comparative Case Study from Ireland and The Netherlands.
“Having a better understanding of consumers perception of bio-based products is crucial to help to boost the transformation from a fossil-based to a bio-based industry, support Europe’s transition to a low-carbon economy and help to meet key sustainability targets.”
– James Gaffey, Co-director of the Circular Bioeconomy Research Group at Munster Technological University.
Some of the main findings in the study indicate that consumers in both countries have a relatively positive outlook regarding bio-based products, with Irish consumers, especially Irish females, showing a slightly more positive position. Moreover, Irish consumers also have a slightly more positive perception that their consumer choice can benefit the environment. Overall, they are more willing to pay extra for bio-based products.
Consumers indicated price in both countries as a key factor influencing the purchase of bio-based products. Around half of the interviewees are unwilling to pay more for bio-based products. Likewise, consumers in both countries are most likely to buy bio-based products from the same product categories, the main ones being packaging products, disposable products, and cleaning, hygiene, and sanitary products. A green premium is most likely to be paid for categories such as disposable products, cosmetics and personal care.
Consumers in both countries appointed environmental sustainability as a significant factor when choosing between products; however, terms such as biodegradable and compostable carry more weight than the term bio-based among consumers, indicating that more work needs to be done to improve consumer knowledge and understanding of bio-based products. Despite this, the overall indication of consumer preference for bio-based over fossil-based products was clear, as 93% of the Irish respondents and 81% of the Dutch ones said they would prefer buying bio-based products rather than fossil-based products. Nearly half of them were even willing to pay a bit more for the bio-based alternatives.
“It was great to notice positive attitudes among consumers towards bio-based products”, appointed John Vos, Senior Consultant and European Projects Manager at BTG Biomass Technology Group. “We hope that the results of this study will serve as a basis for further exploration of this topic and will stimulate the market for bio-based products by addressing uncertainties around consumer demand in Ireland and the Netherlands.”
BIOSWITCH is an initiative funded by the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme with a total budget of €1 million. The project is coordinated by the Finnish entity CLIC Innovation and formed by a multi-disciplinary consortium of eight partners from six different countries. The partners’ profiles include four industrial clusters: CLIC Innovation, Corporación Tecnológica de Andalucía, Flanders’ FOOD and Food & Bio Cluster Denmark; two Research and Technological Organizations: Munster Technological Institute and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland; and two SMEs: BTG Biomass Technology Group and Sustainable Innovations.
This project has received funding from the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (JU) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 887727.
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