Sustainable diets

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This new report reveals the findings from IGD’s ShopperVista research on the motivations and drivers for shoppers in adopting a more sustainable diet.

It includes information on:
•How shoppers approach both health and sustainability
•What drives their product choices in these areas
•How empowered they feel to make a difference
•What shoppers feel about choice editing
•Who shoppers think is responsible for making a difference

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Sustainable diets

  1. 1. 1 October 2013 © IGD 2013
  2. 2. 2 Contents Slide 3 Introduction Slide 4 Key findings Slide 5 Background information Slide 6 How shoppers’ approach health and sustainability Slide 12 Shopper empowerment Slide 15 Product choice drivers: Health vs. ethics and environment Slide 21 Choice editing Slide 24 Responsibility Slide 27 Contact us © IGD 2013
  3. 3. 3 Introduction This report reveals the findings from our shopper research on the motivations and drivers for shoppers adopting a more sustainable diet. We have undertaken this research as part of our Industry Working Group (see slide 28) programme that is looking to address the concept of a sustainable diet. We can't solve all the issues immediately but it's important that any solutions we do come up with are practical and evidence based. Research methodology • Focus groups: Four • Region: North London and Bristol • Life-stage: Pre-family, young family, maturing family, post-family Read on to find out about: • Social grade: 4xBC1 • Working status: Mix of full-time, part-time and not working • The different shopper approaches and attitudes to both health and environmental sustainability • How empowered shoppers feel to influence environmental, ethical and health issues through their purchasing decisions • What drives product choice in terms of health and environmental sustainability and how it differs by category • Shoppers’ attitudes towards choice editing, how this has changed over time and how it differs for health and sustainability • The extent shoppers believe these issues are the responsibility of industry • Medium and high focus in ethics and health • Responsible for food and grocery shopping and meal preparation Our ultimate aim is to help move consumers towards sustainable and healthy dietary choices. Research completed: June, 2013 Online survey • 1,035 online interviews • Fully or mainly responsible for food and grocery shopping in household Research completed: August, 2013 © IGD 2013
  4. 4. 4 Key findings Shopper approach: Mainstream shoppers adopt a reactive, minimalist approach to engaging with environmental and health issues. The default is to continue as they are and confront issues as a last resort Shopper relevance: “Food quality” is the main portal to both environmental and health issues. Related to this are two subfactors: “provenance” and “food production practices”. All three of these are of immediate interest, relevance and concern Shopper empowerment: Shoppers feel more empowered to positively influence several environmental and social issues through their grocery shopping. However, they do not feel fully empowered yet and would like to exert more influence on animal welfare, global warming and helping workers in poorer nations in particular Shopper priorities: Health and nutrition are a priority for shoppers - usually ranking higher than ethical or environmental factors, suggesting that health messaging could be a strong communication lever in support of ethics Shoppers and choice editing: Many shoppers are receptive to choice editing for ethical reasons (although it needs to be approached cautiously) but few support it for health reasons Shopper expectations: Shoppers expect companies to be fully on top of their supply chains to ensure products are healthy and responsibly produced. Industry needs to ensure that it is doing the right thing while striking the right balance when it comes to informing shoppers Shopper understanding: The challenge for industry is to create a clear overarching coherent narrative that shoppers can grasp around environmental and health issues © IGD 2013
  5. 5. 5 Background information For many years, the issues of sustainability and nutrition have co-existed as mainly separate agendas. Businesses have made considerable progress on both fronts; reducing emissions, waste and water, delivering better nutritional labelling and offering healthier products. The two agendas converge when addressing the delivery of a sustainable diet. This concept is developing rapidly in academic and public debate. However, despite its profile, there is no clarity yet on how a healthy and sustainable diet should be defined or achieved. Evidence of the need for change is compelling. The Foresight report on “The future of food and farming: Challenges and choices for global sustainability” noted that many systems of food production are unsustainable. They cannot support a global population heading towards 9 billion by 2050 and increasing in prosperity; they require too many of the world’s diminishing resources. From a health perspective, current systems under deliver nutrients and energy to 1.9 billion people while another one billion are substantially over consuming, resulting in rising obesity and associated diseases. Consumer and shopper drivers of dietary change Assuming that dietary change is required, this represents a long term challenge. While food businesses can make some progress without involving consumers, ultimately change requires consumer and shopper participation. Openness to increase or decrease consumption of specific foods may be needed in the future, and it will be important to understand the factors affecting shoppers’ willingness to do this. Industry will need to provide shoppers with as much information as they need to inform their choices. For these reasons, IGD has conducted quantitative and qualitative shopper research to understand shoppers’ motivations and drivers for both health and sustainability, so that industry is better placed to inform and help. © IGD 2013
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  7. 7. 7 Shoppers prioritise health ahead of ethics and the environment Importance of differing factors in product choice • Given shoppers’ current priority of saving money, it is no surprise that price and promotions play the most significant role in product choice decisions • Quality ranks third and is often the gateway to thinking about sustainability issues • Shoppers are primarily focused on the direct benefit to both themselves and their families when choosing products, and health ranks above ethical considerations in most people’s shopping decision hierarchy • Nearly half of shoppers (49%) say healthy options are important when they are choosing which products to buy. This is significantly higher than those stating that ethical considerations are important (one in five) • However, sustainability can play an important role when shoppers are choosing between products 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Price Promotions Quality or performance Taste or smell Healthy option Use by or sell by date Familiarity Brand Ease of use Ethical or eco-friendly Q. Rank your five most important considerations when shopping. Please think about the individual food and grocery products that you buy. IGD ShopperVista July 2013, Base: all main grocery shoppers © IGD 2013
  8. 8. 8 How shoppers approach health and sustainability • Most shoppers compartmentalise environmental and health issues rather than taking a systematic approach • For shoppers that do engage with the sustainability agenda when making dietary choices the approach and commitment can vary greatly • Shoppers’ approach towards health and sustainability mainly depends on age and life stage • Four shopper segments emerged from our qualitative research • Most shoppers are ‘Mainstreamers’ and adopt a reactive, minimalist approach to engaging with sustainable diet issues • ‘Nutrition Savvy’ shoppers are focused more on health and nutrition • ‘Ethical Foodie’ focus more on the quality of food and tend to be older (family or post-family) • Younger shoppers are more likely to be ‘Ultra-Ethicals’ and uncompromising Implications • A ‘one size fits all’ approach is not always possible or appropriate • Different messages resonate with different shopper groups • Industry should be mindful that the younger ‘UltraEthical’ shoppers of today may become the new mainstreamers of the future, if their beliefs are deeply entrenched Base: IGD focus group, June 2013 Mainstreamers Nutrition Savvy • Pragmatic, driven by and concerned about food quality but readily make quality/price trade-offs • Reactive – respond only to prominent issues and scares • Largely accept the food choices presented to them • Most concerns are latent, only half developed • Driven by their own and their children’s health needs • Self-considered experts in health and nutrition which is reflected in their strong beliefs and decision drivers • Think in ‘quasi-scientific’ way about content of food – calories, fats, carbohydrates etc. Ethical Foodie • Driven by love of food: flavour, eating, cooking experience • Strongly focused on food quality issues, seeking high quality ingredients • Pragmatic, realistic rather than idealistic about food production Ultra Ethical • Serious about food issues, and are political • Consider a wide range of ethical, environmental and nutritional issues - tend to put environmental/ethical issues ahead of nutritional ones • Wary of commercially-driven food producers and supermarkets © IGD 2013
  9. 9. 9 Life stages affect decisions on health and sustainability • Shopping for children has both positive and negative effects on parents’ engagement with food sustainability issues • Parents are torn between meeting children’s demands and focusing on food provenance, ethical and environmental factors • Some shoppers with young children purchase organic, believing that nutrition at the start of life is especially important • Pre-family shoppers make some links between issues, but with some difficulty, and rarely with an over-arching narrative Empty nesters, 55+ Issues of health/age are important Question modern farming methods, reflective; can be idealistic In store: sometimes take time, less pressured Family, 35-55 Base: IGD focus group, June 2013 “Just dealing with today” Pragmatic, focused on responsibility to feed family Reactive - only taking note of ethical issues if glaring, separate needs of food shopping from their wider ethical views “You think you’re being ethical, but you don’t really understand why” Implications • Priorities change depending on life stage • Generally younger shoppers have more time to engage with the sustainability agenda and have been brought up with it • Empty nesters have more time to consider when purchasing products. Health is often a priority • Those with families prioritise their children’s diets especially in the early years “Thinking about a better yesterday” In store: time-pressured, focused on getting the shopping done quickly Pre-family, 25-34 “Dreaming of a better tomorrow” Grown up with environmental issues Moving from convenience focus to greater knowledge and maturity. Holistic approach to their values, food shopping part of these. In store: sometimes take time, less pressured © IGD 2013
  10. 10. 10 Quality is the gateway to engaging shoppers ― Shoppers’ attitudes on free range eggs and on sustainably fished cod are often priority drivers of decision-making in these areas ― For higher welfare chicken and pole caught tuna there is fairly high awareness of the ethical issues. However, it is not as prominent at point of purchase and many admitted to still buying cheap chicken. While a few mentioned pole and line caught tuna, most were not driven by the issue ― Many other issues such as ‘Airmiles’ (air-freighted) in produce do not register with the vast majority of shoppers, and would certainly not be a barrier to purchase Farming methods “May affect content and flavour” Animal welfare “May affect meat quality” “Store cupboard” ingredients Products can have unknown additives added to keep them fresh longer Local / British farmers Implications • Quality is a key driver to purchase for shoppers, therefore any ethical and/or environmental communication should point to improved quality for the shopper Base: IGD focus group, June 2013 The spectrum of perceived quality • Very few “standalone” issues influence shoppers independently of quality or price • However, quality represents different things to different shoppers and often denotes different environmental, ethical and nutrition credentials • Where environmental, ethical or nutrition issues clearly affect product quality their importance is heightened • For issues to impact shoppers decisively it requires years of media coverage and well established and good value solutions, for example: Trusted to have high food hygiene / safety standards © IGD 2013
  11. 11. 11 Influencers and levers out-of-store and in-store Out-of-store • Much of the reflection about the wider issues around sustainability is prompted out-of-store ― Often media coverage is associated with nutrition and food safety issues, especially “scares” and can be contradictory, and confusing for the shopper ― Celebrity chefs often focus on food quality, provenance, sourcing and natural rather than processed food ― Retailer advertising often emphasises local sourcing, prompting thoughts about provenance and farming methods Newspaper stories (e.g. on health, nutrition issues) TV documentaries (esp. on food safety, animal welfare) Influence of values projected by celebrity chefs Retailer advertising e.g. locally sourced produce, animal welfare     • In-store triggers can prompt shoppers to reflect on sustainable choices ― Shoppers look for longest use-by date - but these can also arouse suspicion about what has been done to the product to keep it fresh e.g. added preservatives and unknown processes ― With regards to distance travelled the real issue for shoppers is around freshness and if artificial preservation or processes have been used, not so much about the environmental impact ― Travel is not strongly questioned within the UK, but travel from overseas is put in a different, more sceptical category due to quality standards ― If prices are deemed too low (especially in meat) this can arouse suspicion around the quality and welfare standards of animals ― Packaging is also an area of scrutiny for shoppers - with most shoppers striving for less packaging ― Decision making in-store can be limited due to store environment and time pressure Base: IGD focus group, June 2013 In-store      Long use-by dates on fresh produce Distant country of origin Too cheap Over-packaged (esp. fruit and veg) Unnatural colour “You can’t ask too many questions at the fish counter cos there’s a queue behind you” © IGD 2013
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  13. 13. 13 Shoppers are feeling more empowered Arrows denote significant differences N/A Your health British farmers The local economy The way animals are treated The environment Sustainable fishing Workers in poorer nations Global warming • Shoppers feel increasingly empowered to positively influence environmental and social issues through their food and grocery shopping decisions • The proportion that feel able to positively influence their health, British farmers, the local economy and the way animals are treated has increased in particular since 2009. This could be due to heightened media and popular culture interest in these areas over recent years. However, perceived influence on social and environmental issues remain much lower • Female shoppers significantly feel more empowered that they can positively influence through their purchasing decisions on health, British farmers and the way animals are treated than male shoppers Q. Which of these, if any, do you feel you can influence positively through your decisions when buying food and grocery products? (%) Base: all main shoppers, Aug'13, 7% none of these © IGD 2013
  14. 14. 14 Opportunities to help inspire shoppers further Arrows denote significant differences The way animals Global warming are treated The local economy The environment Workers in poorer nations Sustainable fishing British farmers My health • Shoppers would like to be able to have a greater influence on all environmental and social issues through their shopping decisions • There is a significant and rising desire by shoppers for more or better mechanisms to influence all of the ethical issues we tested • This does not apply to health where shoppers already feel highly empowered Implications • The investment by industry in improved nutritional labelling and healthy choices appears to have worked in making shoppers feel more empowered, this is likely to have been helped by increased media attention in this area • Industry has an opportunity to inspire shoppers to make more informed decisions to influence environmental and social issues Q. Which others would you like to be able to influence positively through your decisions when buying food and groceries? (%) Base: all main shoppers, Aug'13, 16% none of these © IGD 2013
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  16. 16. 16 Overview of priority health and ethical factors by category Key: Priority drivers within blue boxes relate to ethical and environmental factors, others relate to health and nutrition drivers Fresh meat Processed meat Dairy Fresh fish Tinned fish 1 2 No artificial colours Animal welfare No artificial colours No artificial colours No artificial colours 5 A DAY Animal welfare No artificial colours Vitamins and minerals Vitamins and minerals Omega 3 No artificial colours 3 Vitamins and minerals Priority ranking Low fat Animal welfare Omega 3 4 Maintain healthy weight Lower in salt Maintain healthy weight Future availability 5 Distance travelled Maintain healthy weight Low fat Maintain healthy weight Vitamins and minerals Maintain healthy weight Future availability Fresh fruit and vegetables Vitamins and minerals Maintain healthy weight Impact on environment • Health and nutrition factors are a high priority for shoppers when purchasing products across many categories – usually ranking higher than ethical or environmental factors • A key factor is how ‘natural’ shoppers believe a product to be - reflected in the importance placed on ‘no artificial colours’. This is also demonstrated in IGD’s ShopperVista research where over half (52%) of shoppers state that recognising all ingredients is extremely or very important • Animal welfare remains an important factor for meat and dairy products, whereas the impact on the environment was only ranked as a significant factor for fruit and vegetables Q. How important or unimportant are each the following health, ethical and environmental factors when buying these food and grocery products? Base: all main shoppers, Aug'13 © IGD 2013
  17. 17. 17 Animal welfare is an important ethical choice driver when purchasing meat and dairy • Of the three categories considered here, ethical drivers are most significant for fresh meat but less so for processed meat • Animal welfare ranks as the top environmental and ethical driver of product choice for all three categories • Shoppers associate higher animal welfare and British produce with better quality meat. Shoppers tend to assume that processed meats have worse animal welfare conditions • The distance product has travelled is particularly important for fresh meat, but ranks only 6th for processed meat Fresh meat Processed meat Dairy Animal welfare Distance it has travelled Future availability Pay and working conditions for employees Impact on the environment Implications • Shoppers still want to be reassured about the welfare standards of the meat products that they purchase • The distance that meat and dairy products have travelled is important, but this is mainly to do with perceived quality Amount of packaging Organic Q. Importance of ethical and environmental factors when buying these food and grocery products (Mean score out of 10) Base: all main shoppers, Aug'13 © IGD 2013
  18. 18. 18 Future supply and the impact on the environment are important sustainability factors when purchasing fish and fruit and vegetables Fresh Tinned fish • Concern of over fishing and sustainable supply for the future ranks as the top environmental and ethical driver of product choice for fresh and tinned fish • The impact on the environment, distance travelled and amount of packaging are the top three ethical drivers for fresh fruit and vegetables – all ranking higher than for fish • The main concern for shoppers in relation to distance travelled is the product freshness, rather than the environmental impact • Organic is the lowest ranking environmental and ethical factor for all categories although still important for some Implications • Most shoppers are aware of over fishing although many need more prompting or persuasion to change behaviour • Shoppers tend to think more about ethics when buying fresh rather than tinned products, although this could reflect the options made available rather than any inherent difference in thinking fish Fresh fruit & veg Future availability Animal welfare N/A Impact on the environment Pay and working conditions for employees Distance it has travelled Amount of packaging Organic Q. Importance of ethical and environmental factors when buying these food and grocery products (Mean score out of 10) Base: all main shoppers, Aug'13 © IGD 2013
  19. 19. 19 Free from artificial colours and preservatives are important health factors when purchasing meat and dairy • The scores for fresh meat and dairy show a strong similarity and differ significantly from those for processed meat. This reflects previous IGD research1 whereby shoppers claim to buy processed foods for taste and convenience rather than their nutritional content • Buying products that are free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives ranks as the top health driver of product choice for fresh meat, processed meat and dairy products • Buying low fat variants and products lower in salt ranks higher for processed meat than for fresh meat and dairy products although in absolute terms the score is still low Fresh meat Processed meat Dairy Free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives Provides vitamins and minerals Helps to maintain a healthy weight Low fat/saturated fat variant Implications • There could be scope for meat and dairy companies to amplify messages about their products’ nutritional benefits and lack of added ingredients Lower in salt Q. Importance of health factors when buying these food and grocery products (Mean score out of 10) Base: all main shoppers, Aug'13 and 1Manufactured foods Research IGD May 2012 © IGD 2013
  20. 20. 20 Free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives are significant choice drivers when purchasing fish and fruit and vegetables Fresh fish • Fruit and vegetables are seen as intrinsically healthy so beyond vitamins and 5-a-day, shoppers do not give much thought to the nutritional content • The main concern is what has been ‘done’ to the fruit and vegetables to make them last so long • Buying products that are free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives ranks as the top health driver of product choice for fresh and tinned fish • Fish is seen as naturally healthy with omega 3 which is ‘good for the brain’ • There was some scepticism round processed fish which was thought to be less healthy than fresh Implications • How natural a product is perceived to be is a key factor when purchasing produce with a longer shelf life • Processed fish is not deemed to be as ‘healthy’ as fresh fish, therefore reassurance in this area could drive purchase Base: all main shoppers, Aug'13 Tinned fish Fresh fruit & veg Free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives Provides vitamins and minerals Contains Omega 3 Helps to maintain a healthy weight Low fat/saturated fat variant N/A Lower in salt N/A N/A N/A Contributes to 5 A DAY Q. Importance of health factors when buying these food and grocery products (Mean score out of 10) © IGD 2013
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  22. 22. 22 Shoppers divided on the need for more ethical choice editing 2010 2013 • Choice editing is where companies withdraw products and restrict choice • Over recent years there has not been any significant fluctuation in shoppers’ attitudes to choice editing for ethical reasons • Overall, 46% of British shoppers are in favour of more choice editing, which is a slight decrease from 20102 • Three in ten (31%) shoppers are happy with the choice editing they perceive has occurred so far, but are reluctant to have choices reduced any further. Men and those living in London are most likely to favour this position • A similar proportion (30%) believe there are a few more areas where ethical only options should be available. This is higher among women • One in seven (15%) shoppers believes that not nearly enough choice editing has been done, rising to more than one in five for retired people and those living in single households Implications • Any choice editing activity on ethical and/or environmental issues should be carefully planned and sensitively tested with shoppers prior to a company-wide roll-out Q. Thinking about recent examples where food retailers have taken an ethical stance such as only stocking 100% non-caged eggs, changing to energy saving light bulbs only, selling Fairtrade bananas only, please indicate which of the following most closely reflects your view Base: all main shoppers, Aug'13 and 22010 Ethical & Sustainable Shopper (excluding Don’t know) © IGD 2013
  23. 23. 23 Shoppers are mainly opposed to choice editing for 2013 health reasons • Overall three in four (73%) of British shoppers are against choice editing of products for health reasons • Many respondents in our qualitative research also believed it is the responsibility of individuals to eat healthily “It’s the responsibility of the people who are putting food in their mouths. We should not have to suffer from reduced choice due to someone else liking the sweet fatty things” • Those aged 35-44, ABC1 and with children are most likely to welcome a bit more choice editing on health Implications • Shoppers generally oppose health related choice editing, as they believe they are able to make informed decisions and do not require industry to intervene (reference slide 13) • However, this does not represent a request for inertia. IGD’s quantitative research3 in 2012 showed that shoppers believe industry does have a role to play in tackling obesity. 48% of shoppers believe it has a very or fairly big role, and only 7% believe it has no role Q. If food retailers were to take a health stance and withdraw unhealthy products, leaving only healthier options for certain products such as low fat cheese, wholemeal bread, baked crisps rather than fried, please indicate which of the following most closely reflects your view Base: all main shoppers, Aug'13 and 3 Winning shoppers trust, IGD 2012 © IGD 2013
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  25. 25. 25 Responsibility falls to industry • Nearly nine in ten (87%) shoppers expect grocery companies to be constantly checking that their suppliers are providing healthy products and are acting responsibly towards the environment, up 4% since 2011. This applies particularly to 65+ year old (93%) and female (89%) shoppers • Fewer shoppers are happy for the food industry to get on with health and sustainability issues without informing them about what they are doing, compared with two years ago (down 7% to 61%) • Female shoppers (58%) were less inclined to think that industry should just get on with doing the ‘right thing’ without informing them, while male shoppers (66%) were more inclined Implications • Shoppers overwhelmingly expect companies to be checking their supply chain and so the reputational damage of failing to do this could be severe • Six out of ten shoppers expect industry to just be getting on with doing the right thing. However, a significant proportion (especially women) would like industry to inform them about health and environmental issues (see slide 26). Industry needs to find ways of making their information available without forcing it on those less interested Expect food and grocery companies to be constantly checking that suppliers are providing healthy products and acting responsibly towards the environment Believe food and grocery companies should just get on with doing the right thing for their health and the environment, rather than telling them about it Q. To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements regarding how healthy food and groceries are and also their environmental impact? Base: all main shoppers, Aug'13 © IGD 2013
  26. 26. 26 Shoppers are looking to be inspired and informed • Shoppers favour positive encouragement to help them make more environmentally friendly and healthy choices • They mainly want to be inspired about products that are healthy and have a positive environmental impact. Three in four agree with this, compared with two years ago (up 7% since 2011) • A higher proportion of female shoppers (80%) would like to be inspired compared to male shoppers (69%) • 78% of shoppers tend to agree (40%) or strongly agree (38%) that industry should provide all the necessary information about health and environmental impacts of products • Female shoppers (82%) are more inclined to agree that industry should provide all the necessary information to make informed choices than male shoppers (74%) • There is no significant difference in opinion by age, region or social class from shoppers with regards to wanting more information Implications • Reconciling the results of the last two slides, shoppers are keen on transparency and inspiration but less so on ‘selfcongratulations’ by companies. Skillful marketing is required to walk this tightrope Would like to be inspired by food and grocery products that are healthy and have a really positive environmental impact Believe food companies should provide all necessary information about health and environmental impact of food and grocery products to allow them to make informed choices Q. To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements regarding how healthy food and groceries are and also their environmental impact? Base: all main shoppers, Aug'13 © IGD 2013
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  28. 28. 28 Further information and contact details Report author: Hannah Arnold Nutrition and Scientific Affairs Manager hannah.arnold@igd.com www.twitter.com/HannahArnold_IGD Report author: Toby Pickard Senior Sustainability Analyst toby.pickard@igd.com www.twitter.com/TobyPickard_IGD Since 2008, IGD has brought the food industry together to consider how it can address nutrition and sustainability objectives and improve knowledge and understanding of sustainable diets. To learn about the concept of sustainable diets and the challenges and potential solutions for industry click HERE IGD has brought industry together to form a ‘sustainable diets’ working group. The group is working to provide guidance and help for food businesses on interpreting and implementing a more sustainable diet to help consumers. To see the members of the working group click HERE Need more shopper insight? Email shopper@igd.com or call +44 (0) 1923 851954 © IGD 2013

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