An approach to the perceptions of Spanish consumers on food sustainability through the use of projective techniques

Increasing social concern regarding the environmental impact caused by the growth of the world’s population and the need to produce food has led to terms such as sustainability and sustainable food production and consumption to become a current subject of discussion. However, consumers are yet not fully familiar with the concept of sustainability and what it actually entails. This paper uses projective techniques as the ideal methodology to overcome these limitations and analyse the meaning of sustainability for Spanish consumers. Results show that consumers associate sustainability with the environment, although when it is referred to food, other concepts such as local/proximity food and responsible consumption also emerge. Also, while consumers find a clear association between sustainability and organic production, this is not so clear when health is also involved. Finally, respondents’ lifestyles served us as a basis to identify three consumer groups with notable differences in terms of their perception of sustainability. These results point to the need for policies that promote sustainable food production and its awareness by consumers to help mitigate environmental degradation