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Invited review: Sustainability: Different perspectives, inherent conflict

Published:August 25, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2021-20360

      ABSTRACT

      Consumer definitions of sustainability are largely uninformed by scientific research and may not align with industry definitions. Furthermore, consumers themselves have varied perceptions, definitions, and opinions of sustainability that vary between categories and products within the dairy category. Understanding these differences and developing marketing messaging aligned with consumer sustainability definitions offer an advantage to dairy product producers when strategically positioning their products in a changing marketplace. This review outlines the factors that may affect consumer sustainability perceptions to provide a basis for future marketing and scientific work. Consumer trends and desires for sustainability are explored, including how they are reflected in the rapid growth of plant-based alternatives. Factors that may influence consumer perception of dairy as sustainable are covered in detail, including packaging, labeling, animal welfare, organic status, grass-fed or pasture-raised feeding systems, and local and clean label perceptions. Finally, a discussion of the challenges of marketing dairy foods with sustainability messages is addressed.

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