SAN FRANCISCO — Educating consumers about the social responsibilities involved with sustainable products might help boost sales, according to a panel of retailers speaking at Food Marketing Institute's Sustainability Summit here.
“There's not enough conversation about social sustainability,” Marie David, director of corporate strategy and sustainability for Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark., said. “We have not made it clear that if we treat people overseas — the ones who make these products — right, it will improve the quality of those products.”
Asked if Americans would be willing to pay more for a product to meet a perceived social responsibility, Bob Garrity, vice president, environmental sustainability, for Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh, said, “There is a certain segment of people willing to pay more for products to support principles they believe in. Not all consumers understand those principles, so I'm not sure there will be a big leap forward if people are asked to pay more.”
However, Harriet Hentges, vice president, corporate responsibility and sustainability for Ahold USA, Quincy, Mass., said, “We're looking at a whole range of options, including educating consumers at the stores and telling them why we're asking them to use recyclable bags, for example. Even little steps lead to success.”
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