Survey responsible consumption

The Trade for Development Centre supports and promotes various forms of fair and sustainable trade and coordinates the Fair Trade Week.

In that context, TDC commissioned a quantitative survey on the knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and purchasing behaviour of the Belgian population in five product categories (july-august 2019):

Fair trade products
Ecological products
Ethical products
Organic products
Local products

The purpose of the study is:

  • To map the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of the Belgian population with regard to responsible consumption.
  • To study the differences and similarities in this area between the five product types mentioned, looking for possible synergies.
  • To formulate recommendations to raise awareness among the Belgian population and to stimulate responsible consumption and the purchase of these products, based on those synergies.

Some key findings

  • Responsible consumption is mainly associated with buying seasonal products and local products on the one hand and with reusing and reducing packaging and waste on the other. The link with ecological products and fair trade products and especially with organic and ethical products is made less than with local products from the short chain.
  • According to 2 out of 3 Belgians, more responsible consumption is needed, which indicates a collective basis and awareness. Less than half are convinced that individual purchasing behaviour has a real impact. One in three Belgians believes that the primary responsibility lies with the consumer, but reference is also made to both the government and the producers and distributors.
  • Local products have a better image than other product types, especially thanks to the price-quality ratio, credibility and assumed impact. In these three areas, organic products have the most negative perceptions, although they score best in terms of health and varied offering.
  • Belgians indicate they most often buy local products, followed by organic and ecological products, and then fair trade and ethical products. Satisfaction with local products is also higher than with all other product categories. Young people say they buy more ecological products, older people more often buy local products and fair products.

Some key figures

  • 70% of Belgians say that buying local products is good for the environment, which is higher than for buying ecological (62%) and organic (52%) products; for fair trade products it is 25%, for ethical products 36%.
  • A minority of Belgians (37%) indicated that their purchases take account of the conditions in which products are made. 6 out of 10 Belgians (59%) confirm they are more aware than before of the circumstances in which some products are made.
  •  Just under half of Belgians (49%) say it is important to be able to buy fair trade products, with a significant difference between the under-35s (46%) and the over-55s (54%).