“Ethical” grocery shopping continues to gather momentum in UK

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 9th February 2009

Despite the deteriorating economy, latest figures from international food and grocery expert, IGD, suggest that ethical shopping for food has not lost momentum.

“While becoming increasingly price sensitive in these challenging times, shoppers are not leaving their ethical concerns at home when they go food shopping. The aspiration for high quality, more sustainable food remains, but people are scrutinising closely to get the best value for their values,” Joanne Denney-Finch, Chief Executive at IGD, commented. “Only organic seems to have suffered a small decline. We believe this is partly due to a swing towards other ethical options, and it is mainly among more casual organic shoppers. A strong core of dedicated organic shoppers remains.”

Favouring Fairtrade

According to IGD’s Shopper Trends 2009 – Food Shopping in a Recession, a quarter of British consumers (25%) have purchased foods that support Fairtrade in the last month, almost three times more than in 2006, which was only 9%.

Liking local

The number of shoppers buying locally produced food has almost doubled in the last three years to 27 per cent, compared to 15 per cent in 2006.

Probing for provenance

The number of shoppers who regard country of origin as important when purchasing food has also increased to almost a quarter (23%), compared to 16% in 2006. Additionally one-fifth (20%) are concerned about the distance food travels – food miles – compared to just 11% three years ago.

Higher expectations in standards of animal welfare

Knowing about the standards of animal welfare has also increased to one-fifth (20%) from 10% in 2006. Additionally almost half (46%) of respondents mentioned animal living conditions when asked about concerns they have relating to food production, as opposed to 30% in 2006.

Organic the exception

Organic food has lost some momentum in the last year. The proportion of shoppers who say they are buying organic food has dropped to 19% compared to 24% in 2008 – the only area of ethical food shopping that has seen a decline, confirming other reports. Some areas of organic are still growing but others have seen growth stagnate.

“Consumers are looking again at every option: where they buy, what they eat and how they cook. But they are not about to abandon their tastes, habits and beliefs that have been built up over the last decade or more,” Ms Denney-Finch concluded.