Food Purchase Behavior in a Finnish Population: Patterns, Carbon Footprints and Expenditures

Jelena Meinilä, Hanna Hartikainen, Hanna L. Tuomisto, Liisa Uusitalo, Henna Vepsäläinen, Merja Saarinen, Satu Kinnunen, Elviira Lehto, Hannu Saarijärvi, Juha Matti Katajajuuri, Maijaliisa Erkkola, Jaakko Nevalainen, Mikael Fogelholm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: To identify food purchase patterns, and to assess their carbon footprint and expenditure. Design: Cross-sectional. Setting: Purchase patterns were identified by factor analysis from the annual purchases of 3435 product groups. The associations between purchase patterns and the total purchases' carbon footprints (based on life-cycle assessment) and expenditure were analyzed using linear regression and adjusted for nutritional energy content of the purchases. Participants: Loyalty card holders (n=22,860) of the largest food retailer in Finland. Results: Eight patterns explained 55% of the variation in food purchases. The Animal-based pattern made the greatest contribution to the annual carbon footprint, followed by the Easy-cooking, and Ready-to-eat patterns. High-energy, Traditional, and Plant-based patterns made the smallest contribution to the carbon footprint of the purchases. Animal-based, Ready-to-eat, Plant-based, and High-energy patterns made the greatest contribution whereas the Traditional, and Easy-cooking pattern made the smallest contribution to food expenditure. Carbon footprint per euros spent increased with stronger adherence to the Traditional, Animals-based, and Easy-cooking patterns. Conclusions: The Animal-based, Ready-to-eat, and High-energy patterns were associated with relatively high expenditure on food, suggesting no economic barrier to a potential shift towards a plant-based diet for consumers adherent to those patterns. Strong adherence to the Traditional pattern resulted in a low energy-adjusted carbon footprint but high carbon footprint per euro. This suggests a preference for cheap nutritional energy rather than environment-conscious purchase behavior. Whether a shift towards a plant-based pattern would be affordable for those with more traditional and cheaper purchase patterns requires more research.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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