More than eight in 10 of the major grocers have maintained or stepped up investment in their environmental strategies during the recession according to research from food and grocery specialist IGD.

IGD’s figures revealed that 85% of manufacturers have either stepped up their investment in sustainability or kept it the same during the recession, despite just over two-fifths (42%) believing it is not yet high enough on the shopper agenda.

Three-quarters (76%) of suppliers think that sustainability will play a greater role in their trading relationships with retailers in the near future, but just over 40% view increased global competition for resource (41%) and more complex legislation (40%) as two of the biggest threats to wider business sustainability in 2010 and beyond.

Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of IGD, said: “Our recent consumer research has shown that shoppers are already concerned about the environmental impact of products and continue to seek value for their values.

“However, manufacturers are looking further to the future, increasing investment in sustainable solutions and anticipating that shopper interest in green products is still in its formative stages. It is set to be a major feature in the marketplace in the coming new decade.”