Sustainable Food Survey 2016

A national online survey looking at attitudes, awareness and behaviours linked to sustainable food issues was completed by over 3000 students studying in further and higher education across the UK. The research was completed in September 2016 as part of NUS’ Student Eats which helps students to develop their own growing sites and food enterprises, embedding sustainable food production across campuses, curriculums and communities. Some of the key results:

  • 76% agree that it’s better for the environment to eat local fruit and vegetables grown in season.
  • Almost two fifths of respondents say they make a conscious effort to buy Fairtrade products (38%) and a third say they try to buy food that is in season in the UK (34%).
  • Respondents perceive locally produced food / food products to be a way of purchasing food that is as fresh as possible (42%) and also a way of supporting the local economy (34%), however only around a quarter say that these products are worth paying a bit extra for (23%).
  • 52% agree that they have a good understanding of the issues surrounding buying local and seasonal produce.
  • 25% have been hungry but did not eat because of a lack of money or other resources in the last 12 months.

Student Eats baseline survey 

This research conducted for our Local Food project, which started in 2012, demonstrated a latent demand among students for access to low-carbon, locally grown food, and many opportunities to support student-led growing sites across the UK - information which has guided our work in this area since. 

  • Over half of respondents said that they'd change their food purchasing habits if they knew more about how their decisions affected the environment.
  • The main reason students didn't grow their own food was lack of access to outside space.
  • Nearly 70 per cent of students agree that food production contributes to climate change.