I have written several times about what HonestFood can mean to a company, how it relates to production, fairer distribution of wealth, animal welfare, etc., but little has been said about how it relates to consumers in concrete terms, why should it be of interest to them?
How long will we live? How can we live longer?
Protecting human health is one of the pillars of HonestFood. A healthy society not only costs less to social security, but is happier, more productive, and finally, lives longer.
Average life expectancy at birth is rising steadily in most developed and developing countries, and we take this for granted. But it is striking that, while in the 1970s Hungary was less than two years behind the average of the current EU Member States in terms of life expectancy at birth for the total population, by 1993 the gap had widened to six years, and since then it has barely recovered to less than five years. The gap in 2021 is 5.6 years, according to Eurostat.
In my home country, Italy, the average age is over 83. I have been thinking a lot about how we, as KOMETA, can contribute to the longer life of my fellow Hungarians, beyond the good quality of the food we offer.
We recently conducted a representative survey* on the subject, which showed that Hungarians also want to live a long life; one third of men want to live to be at least 91! This is a far cry from what the statistics currently show.
Little exercise and no awareness of nutrition
The survey found that most Hungarians (72%) were aware that average life expectancy at birth in Hungary is lower than in the EU, but only three in ten knew the exact number of years. And while they are aware of what they should do to live more healthy, active years, the number of people who would act accordingly is small. More than half of Hungarians (57%) do not even exercise 3 hours a week, and the lack of conscious diet paints an even bleaker picture than physical activity: only 1 in 5 Hungarians think they eat consciously. Those who know that they do not eat healthily (mostly women) mainly say that good quality food is very expensive. One in 10 Hungarians delude themselves that they will live a long life without having to do anything special. And about the same number of people think they have inherited bad genes and therefore put their hands up that they cannot do anything to ensure longevity.
This survey was also an excellent opportunity to see where knowledge is lacking and where people need help to make good choices about their diet and lifestyle.
How can we get people who want to live long to live a little more consciously and actively? I have tried to engage professionals and public figures who can make the case and reach many people. My aim is to give people the motivation they need, and to this end, singer Vera Tóth and three-time Olympic champion water polo player Gergely Kiss were excellent partners, and dietician and sociologist Emese Antal helped to dispel some of the beliefs and misconceptions. I invited them to a press conference to give their thoughts on the subject.
I agree with what the dietician said, “ you can eat unhealthy food for a lot of money and healthy food for cheap”.
In Hungary, food prices have indeed risen dramatically recently, so it has become particularly important to be conscious, which means planning your menu, writing a shopping list, avoiding poor quality food, buying only what you consume, as this will help you avoid some of the food you buy and/or prepare ending up in the rubbish.
And that brings me to another very important part of the HonestFood approach, the issue of food waste.
Globally, food waste in households is responsible for 50-60% of food waste in the entire food chain. In Hungary, 245,000 tonnes of food end up in the garbage every year, which means that at current food prices, an average Hungarian citizen wastes HUF 35,000 worth of food every year.
Our survey also asked about some of the habits associated with food waste. The data again highlights the need for greater awareness. Most Hungarians consider themselves to be conscious shoppers, yet 59% of our fellow Hungarians throw food away, and 23% throw a lot of it away. Most respondents throw away bakery products most often, while the least frequently thrown away products are long-life foods, meat, and meat products.
We have done part of the work, we have assessed the current situation, we have a rough idea of what people know and believe now, and we see the challenge. Education, continuous inspiration, and motivation, with the aim of educating conscious customers. People who look for good quality, who look at and interpret product labels and who know that a high-quality product cannot be too cheap, but not too expensive either. And they are actively engaged in living long and healthy lives. Because that’s HonestFood!
*About the research
The survey was carried out in September 2022, interviewing 994 people, representative of the Hungarian smartphone users aged 18-59 by age, gender, education, and place of residence. The survey was commissioned by KOMETA and conducted by Opinio Institute Ltd.