New Data Reveals COVID-19 Puts Sustainability And Responsible Business Top Of Mind For Kiwis

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The Rainforest Alliance reveals that 68%* of Kiwis say the COVID-19 pandemic has made them more conscious about environmental and social sustainability issues. Seventy two percent* state that they have been trying to make more sustainable purchasing decisions, where possible, since the start of the pandemic.

Melanie Mokken, Markets Transformation Manager Australia/New Zealand for the Rainforest Alliance said,

“As we face increasing environmental and social challenges, we already know that New Zealanders are demanding more from companies, with 83%** saying they agree that businesses aren’t doing enough to reduce environmental impact. They want proof of how companies are contributing to a healthier and more sustainable world, and increasingly want to know where their products come from and how they impact the planet. Consumers want to trust that products are sourced with respect for people and nature.

“COVID-19 disruptions to global supply chains have focused the attention of consumers and businesses on where their products come from, and how dependent we all are on what happens in other parts of the world for the products we use every day.

Encouragingly, 70%** of New Zealanders say that they look for labels that ensure their choices are better for the environment or ensure higher animal welfare. In addition, 67%** said that they would make eco-conscious choices, even if it was more expensive.

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In the new research undertaken, forty one percent* of Kiwis say that they know that products carrying the Rainforest Alliance seal are more socially and environmentally sustainable.

“We can see that New Zealand consumers consider sustainability to be the new baseline. Given the current climate crisis, consumers want to be able to make a real difference for people and nature and are driving companies to make more ambitious sustainability commitments. Consumers are also savvy; they understand the unparalleled power of the collective and that together we can create the positive change we all want to see.”

Luckily, it has never been easier to buy sustainably. The Rainforest Alliance seal means that farmers have been provided with the tools, skills and knowledge needed to drive more sustainable and profitable farming; and companies reward more sustainable practices that help protect forests, improve farmer livelihoods, promote human rights and support climate adaptation.

Making it easier to purchase sustainably

The Rainforest Alliance proudly works with several iconic New Zealand local brands, such as Whittaker’s chocolate, Red Seal tea and Ti Ora. All founded in Aotearoa, these brands offer an abundance of sustainable choices. Other certified products include favourite kiwi household brands, such as, Moccona and Milo, as well as Dole Bananas or Countdown’s own-branded chocolate products.

“We work with a number of well-known brands in New Zealand, which are all mindful of how they impact the planet. We, therefore, encourage consumers to look for the Rainforest Alliance green frog seal and shop sustainably to help us make a positive change to our planet. With this one small choice, consumers are using their purchasing power to contribute to a larger movement for positive change – one that supports the livelihoods of farmers and forest communities who are similarly committed to building a more sustainable world,” said Melanie Mokken.

Following the merger between UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance in 2018 the international non-profit organisation recently enhanced its certification program and standard, based on public consultations with input from more than 1,000 people in nearly 50 countries, representing more than 200 organisations – from farmers to board room representatives. The new Rainforest Alliance 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard is raising the bar of sustainability certification, moving from a pass-fail approach to focus on continuous improvements to address changing sustainability risks, and leveraging new technologies to better monitor risks and performance. The new program will replace existing Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certification programs from mid-2021.

“The new certification program incorporates new tools to support farmers and companies to set clear sustainability targets and focus investments to improve positive impacts for people and nature. These tools and innovations will support more resilient agriculture and help make responsible business the new normal. This is increasingly urgent in our age of climate change, biodiversity loss, and global inequality,” said Melanie.

“As businesses look to reinvigorate their operations during and after the COVID-19 crisis, current innovations in sustainability certification can help build more resilient supply chains through a stronger focus on continuous improvement, transparency and shared responsibility. More companies recognise that economic viability cannot exist without social and environmental sustainability. By demonstrating that they are contributing to a healthier and more sustainable world, companies are helping consumers to make better choices and be part of the solution,” said Melanie.

*Independently commissioned research conducted in December 2020 with 1,020 respondents in New Zealand.

**Source: Colmar-Brunton Better Futures 2020 report, outlines the top concerns for New Zealand consumers.