Sustainable and environmentally friendly products are at the forefront of many consumers’ minds —especially Gen Zers and Millennials. Fueled by factors, such as increased access to product and brand information, social media trends and influencers, and the realization that consumers have the power to drive real positive change, this shift signifies the importance for retailers to provide products that demonstrate their dedication to making a meaningful impact.

The distribution industry’s trajectory is directly influenced by consumer preferences and Macro Trends, emphasizing the need for retailers and brands to meet them with the products they are looking for.

Sustainability as a Product Differentiator
Product differentiation is a tried and true method to highlight the value of a product in a saturated market. Sustainability especially has become a powerful tool for differentiation, allowing companies to position themselves and their products as the preferable solution in comparison to others. Brands have become well aware of this preference, and in just the last year, a third of new product launches featured at least one sustainability or ethical claim related to packaging, with recycling being the most common. As brands continue to develop products that advance sustainability efforts, consumers will gradually raise their expectations for what actions align with their values and truly capture their attention.

Consumers will Pay More for Environmentally-Conscious Products

Consumers are more conscious of the environmental impact of their choices than ever before, making social responsibility a key motivator for sustainable consumption. To that point, 75% of consumers say they try to act in a way that is not harmful to the environment, which is a leading factor behind the increased preference for sustainable products. Gen Zers and Millennials are a driving force behind this value, with 42% viewing sustainability and environmental claims as more important than price. The fact that some consumers now prioritize sustainability and ecological footprint over prices emphasizes its growing importance in decision-making.

Transparency is Essential to the Success of Eco-Friendly Brands
Brand transparency fosters loyalty and trust, ultimately leading to higher sales and the establishment of a preferred brand status in a saturated market. With consumers now able to easily access a brand’s history, values, and initiatives, they have developed an expectation of transparency from companies before purchasing their products. Companies committed to sustainability especially benefit from transparency, reflected by the 71% of consumers who are more likely to believe a company’s sustainability claims if they are directly printed on the product and its packaging. That explains why 37% of US consumers strongly agree that food companies should be more transparent about their farming practices.

The bottom line is that consumers want to forge deeper connections with the products they purchase and the brands they support. The KeHE ECO Trade™ program was created to recognize and support brands that make a significant climate action commitment, such as net zero, carbon neutral, or science-based targets, and bring those to the forefront for retailers and shoppers to discover.

As a time-tested industry leader, not only does KeHE® identify upcoming trends, but it also has the brand portfolio to help retailers stock their shelves with products right when consumers are seeking them. Due to the power of consumer purchasing habits, identifying Macro Trends will continue to be a fundamental way for retailers and brands to stand out and reach consumers in a highly competitive market.
To see how KeHE can help support businesses as they navigate these macro trends in 2024 and beyond, visit