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The text "Be Vegan" written on the pavement in chalk

Groceries as politics


What we consume and especially what we eat has become a divisive political topic. Many see consuming as a more important way of changing the world than voting. Vegetarianism and veganism are ways of promoting animal rights, but also acts against climate change. Similarly, meat, milk, butter and cotton are the cornerstones of conservative lifestyle and a desire for life to continue as is – or even going back to “the good old times”. Product boycotts are common weapons against many kinds of harmful practices against workers, communities, ecosystems, and consumers’ health or identity. In this situation, the retail industry and manufacturers cannot overlook the need of the people to identify through their consumption. Future consumers will expect their shopping to be meaningful and constructive when thinking of the kind of society they want to promote. They will expect retail industry to serve their individual diets and answer their ethical needs.

Next steps

Consumers will want to understand how their consumption contributes to the things they believe in. They will need more accurate, transparent and detailed information on ingredients, origins and the impacts of the product. That is why buying directly from the producer or through a very short supply chain will be tempting in the future. Consumers will turn away from brands, products and stores that have normative assumptions about who they are. More and more consumers will be willing to pay extra to be approached cleverly or given an opportunity to have a positive societal impact.


  • Be transparent and open about the products, ingredients and how they are made and distributed.
  • Be mindful about the marketing messages: consumers will want to know about real actions and facts over green washing and brand polishing.