Skip to main content

Adaptive Value Chains

As part of the Adaptive Value Chains project, a study was conducted to better understand current Australian attitudes and behaviours related to climate change and consumer perceptions of climate adaptation with regard to the consumption and purchase of food products. 

In April 2014 an online survey was administered to a cross-section of 1532 Australians from metropolitan and regional areas, specifically targeting consumers who purchase a range of food products.

Key findings from the survey are described below.

How do consumers differ when it comes to attitudes toward climate adaptation?


In order to identify differences between consumer perceptions and attitudes towards climate adaptation, a segmentation analysis was performed on the 1532 survey respondents. For the purposes of this study, the analysis resulted in five distinct segments, as shown below:

CSIRO AVC cluster

A full description of the consumer segments can be found in the survey report, Climate adaptation: what it means for Australian consumers.

The differences between these segments were clearly shown in the responses provided to range of survey questions. For example, the figure below demonstrates each segment differed with regards to action taken to adapt to climate change. Not surprisingly, Eco-Warriors are more likely to have done something to adapt to climate change with 75% of this segment taking some action. At the other end of the spectrum, Sceptics are significantly less likely to have done something to adapt to climate change (17%).

CSIRO AVC graphs2015 5.0 fig8

What is the perceived vulnerability of our food system?


Climate change can affect our food systems in many ways - changing food markets, food prices and infrastructure, and causing disruption to food supply. 

When asked about the vulnerability of different stages along the food chain, the majority of respondents (81%) felt that farmers are ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ vulnerable to the effects of climate change and extreme weather events. Respondents were comparatively much less concerned about the vulnerability of others along a typical food chain. For example, the majority believed that the transportation and processing sectors are only moderately vulnerable to the effects of climate change. These results are displayed in the figure below.

CSIRO AVC graphs2015 5.0 fig7


Is there consumer support for adaptation initiatives?


To more specifically understand how consumers may act in response to adaptation strategies implemented by food businesses, consumers were asked to rate their likelihood of purchasing from a company who embarks on certain initiatives.

Sustainability initiatives, potential adaptation initiatives and other common competitive strategies were presented to respondents. Generally speaking, sustainability initiatives had a positive effect on consumer likelihood to purchase, with almost three quarters (72%) of those surveyed indicating they are likely to purchase from food businesses that source their products locally.

CSIRO AVC graphs2015 5.0 fig10


If you would like learn more about the findings of this research, a copy of the full report is available from the Resources page. You will also find a link to a journal article, published in Regional Environmental Change, featuring the results of this study. 

If you'd like to see more about how this work has been applied, visit these pages: 

ECOS - Buying groceries in a warming world

Grapegrower and Winemaker Magazine (see page 11) - A changing consumer climate: Are we ready to adapt?