Monday, June 17, 2024

UK consumers hungry for ethical food

British consumers have a growing appetite for ethical eating, according to the latest research from Mintel.

More than eight in 10 (83 per cent) UK adults say they’ve bought food/drink with some sort of ethical certification. The proportion is even higher (87 per cent) for British consumers aged over 55.

Last year, the UK spent £8.2 billion ($15.4 billion) on ethical food and drink. This included organic, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified products.

Sales up by 43 per cent

Over the past five years, sales of ethical food and drink have rocketed by 43 per cent from £5.7 billion ($10.7 billion) in 2013. This year, Mintel estimates that sales will rise another four per cent to reach £8.6 billion ($16.1 billion). It also predicts that sales of ethically certified food and drink will rise 17 per cent to reach £9.6 billion ($18 billion) from 2019 to 2023.

Concern over animal welfare is the number-one reason (45 per cent) Brits buy any food/drink with an ethical certification.

But while ethical food and drink is growing in popularity, says Mintel, cost can be “a significant barrier”. In fact, seven in 10 (70 per cent) UK adults say that eating sustainably/ethically is harder when money is tight.

“Ethical food and drink has enjoyed strong sales growth in recent years,” Mintel Research Analyst Alice Baker said. “But price poses a significant barrier to greater uptake. This makes it imperative for companies to demonstrate to consumers how they can shop ethically without breaking the bank. And how ethical products can – in some cases – even be the financially savvy option.”

Confusion is also having an impact, says Mintel. So much so that six in 10 (60 per cent) UK adults say it’s difficult to know the differences between different sustainable/ethical schemes.

Free range tops the rankings

Free range is the most popular certification with Brits (66 per cent buy free range). Fairtrade ranks as the second most popular (53 per cent). Red Tractor certification comes in third (49 per cent), while organic is fourth (30 per cent).

“Free range is a long-established label that spans various products, including eggs, poultry and – latterly – dairy products, including milk and yogurt,” Ms Baker said.

“The intuitively tangible animal-welfare image of free range undoubtedly underpins its popularity.”

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