A new report from Datamonitor Consumer examines biodiversity loss and wider sustainability issues as a new breed of plucky start-ups are challenging industry giants and awakening interest among consumers.

The FMCG industry is approaching a turning point: the new year is set to see innovations reach the market that will shatter current approaches to sustainability and the wider “green issue.” But how have we got to a position where a handful of plucky startups are able to challenge industry giants and awaken consumer interest in such a way?

While traditional FMCG players may struggle to change ingrained routes to market, the new breed of responsibly sourced and manufactured products are gaining visibility. The rapid uptake of alternative ingredient sourcing methods (rooftop crops, second-generation ingredient as in Bai5 and Fiber Snack, and the much publicized lab-grown “Frankenburger” and milk brand Muufri, for example) is a pointer to the future of the industry’s role in protecting biodiversity.

Importantly, these smaller players are more in touch with modern consumer demands; they understand that price is always going to be the purchase driver in the mainstream, whether a product can “save the world” or not. Indeed, having a pro-biodiversity mantra at the core of the business model reassures consumers that CSR efforts are genuine.

“Start-ups such as these are savvy, and see that they absolutely have to meet every consumer demand if they really are to gain traction,” says Sara Grady, Analyst at Datamonitor Consumer. “At the crux of this attitude is the dichotomy between what the average consumer cares about and what they actually seek out in terms of green credentials.”

Datamonitor Consumer has found that, globally, there is a significant lack of trust in producer efforts, with two-thirds of consumers saying that CSR efforts are only done to boost the company’s image. Further to this, only around a third of consumers actively seek out on-pack sustainability/ethics logos. There is clearly a miscommunication between what FMCG players are doing, and why consumers think they are doing it.

“Relevant sustainability interactions are essential in building trust and understanding among consumers. Rushed and panicked efforts are reactive, not proactive, and only worsen the opinion of ‘the average joe’ because they seem forced,” explains Grady. “There must, therefore, be cohesion between CSR efforts and the brand’s ethos and – most importantly – consumers must understand it.”

The same research also showed that consumers who say they pay attention to green issues are likely to view industry efforts more positively. This piece of good news reaffirms Grady’s implication that education is the missing link in breeding trust in producer efforts. Despite this, the noise surrounding disruptive innovations, like Muufri and the “Frankenburger” look set to change the FMCG landscape for good and so it is now down to the major players to keep up.

For more information on the role of the FMCG industry in the loss of species richness, please see Datamonitor Consumer’s latest release; Trendsights: Biodiversity. A link to purchase the report is here: http://www.datamonitor.com/store/Product/?productid=CM00288-006