Takeaway coffee: The interplay between convenience and sustainability

Sherrington, Anna Maria orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-3950-4022 (2022) Takeaway coffee: The interplay between convenience and sustainability. In: 9th International Conference on Social Responsibility, Ethics and Sustainable Business, 15-16 September 2022, Mid Sweden University, Ostersund, Sweden.

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Returning to places of work and study following the pandemic has led to the resumption of pre-pandemic habits relating to out-of-home consumption of food and drink. 51% of UK adults reported eating breakfast out-of-home in early 2022, a figure that seems set to increase (Mintel, 2022a).

Takeaway coffee is an important component of out-of-home breakfasts and other meal occasions, and increased awareness of the ethical and environmental agenda means that consumers expect more transparency about ethical commitments of brands and the impact of products on the environment (Mintel, 2022b).

This paper focuses on consumer willingness to use one-use packaging, investigating the interplay between consumer practice, convenience and sustainability in the context of takeaway coffee. It also explores consumers’ perceptions of sustainability in relation to a low-involvement product, including ethical commitments, how information is accessed, evaluated and practised and the transfer of sustainability concepts to coffee consumption.

In the paper, the concept of sustainability is seen to encompass not only one-use coffee cups, but also consumers’ recycling behaviour, views on third-party sustainability certification and concern for the welfare of all stakeholders including coffee farmers.

The paper reports on original research conducted with coffee drinkers in different countries. It takes an interpretivist perspective with data collected by means of in-depth interviews and uses discourse analysis to interrogate the data. As such, it reports a snapshot of multinational consumer perspectives on sustainability within an industry focused on convenience.

Findings are likely to be of interest to brands, coffee shops, policy makers and an academic audience. Further, it is envisaged that insight into consumer attitudes and beliefs will aid understanding the ‘green gap’ between an expressed commitment to green behaviour and actual behaviour. The research uses a small sample and reports on a pilot study to form recommendations for more extensive future survey research.

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