Client: Coop

Designing climate-friendly consumer choices and economic growth in the European food and grocery market

Harnessing consumer preferences as key market drivers

The European food and grocery retail industry stands as a dynamic and ever-evolving sector. Supermarkets play a pivotal role in shaping consumer trends and driving economic growth. With a market size of approximately €1790 billion and an expected compound annual growth rate of over 4% from 2021 to 2026, Europe’s supermarket retail industry comprises a vast and diverse market, encompassing both established players and emerging challengers. Success in this industry hinges on the ability to understand and capitalize on key market dynamics, consumer preferences, and emerging trends.
One of the primary factors driving success is the ability to meet the growing demand for convenience in consumers’ lives. In an era of hectic lifestyles, shoppers prioritize time efficiency and accessibility. Additionally, consumers are increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of their purchase decisions. Therefore, retailers that embrace eco-friendly practices, reduce food waste, and promote ethical sourcing are often preferred. For the European supermarket industry, long-term success depends on staying compliant and proactively responding to regulatory changes related to sustainability standards.

“With a focus on customer behavior, we have in just six months successfully reached the level of CO2 emissions from the sale of food, which according to our plan should apply to all COOP's stores in 2030. Furthermore, the test store has sold 50% more salads, reduced food waste by 60 %. While the test store's turnover, profit and earnings have improved during the test period”.

Jonas Engberg, Head of Climate, COOP

Empowering COOP, an approved retailer of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)

COOP- a Nordic retailer, with more than 7 supermarket brands, 1.200 stores, and 40.000 employees, stands as one of the largest retailers in the Nordics. COOP is partly owned by COOP Danmark and by several independent consumer associations. This unique ownership structure allows COOP to prioritize the needs and interests of its members rather than solely focusing on maximizing profits for external shareholders.
As the first grocery company ever, COOP has received approval for its climate action plan from the international Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). This approval confirms that COOP’s climate goals align with the Paris Agreement, including emissions reductions across its entire value chain, including food production. Consequently, COOP’s climate plan applies to more than 50 suppliers delivering goods worth approximately €13,5 million per year.

Introducing new commercial standards and ambitious climate plans

To reduce emissions from its own operations and influence consumer choices within COOP supermarkets, COOP has adopted a behavior-led approach to develop new national strategies and in-store standards for point-of-sale (POS) and space management concepts that promote climate-friendly consumption. The ambition is to reduce the climate footprint of the average shopping basket by at least 2% per year, a target that applies to all COOP stores by 2020, as outlined in COOP’s climate plan.

Reaching climate goals of 2030 in only 6 months

By implementing behavior-led strategies into COOP´s national POS and space management concepts, COOP not only managed to reduce CO2 emissions by 14% within six months, thus surpassing their 2030 by far, but also achieved commercial goals such as a 25% increase in sales of climate-friendly products, a 123,2% increase in net turnover for test shops compared to the previous year (Index vs. PY), and a 65% increase in customer perception of COOP as a climate-friendly retailer.

A climate-friendly business opportunity at scale

On an average, a grocery store emits CO2 emissions equivalent to those of 635 passenger cars annually. With 38.000 supermarkets in the United States alone, this translates to a carbon footprint of at least 112 million metric tones from Scope 1emissions alone. These figures do not even account for emissions generated by food waste going to landfills or plastic waste. COOP’s achievements serve as a best-practice example, demonstrating how a behavior-led approach can significantly reduce global emissions while achieving commercial targets. These achievements align with the values of increasingly savvy customers and empower the retail industry to future-proof itself against forthcoming climate change regulations.