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Britain turning to ethical food

Date 17 Oct 2006

British shoppers will spend over £2 billion on ethical foods this year and this figure is set to rise in the future, recent research has shown.

Since 2002 spending on ethical foods has grown by 62%, according to the report from market analysts Mintel. This increase has corresponded with a similar rise in public awareness of ethical and environmental responsibilities. 75% of shoppers now believe they have a ‘duty’ to recycle, up from 65% in 2002. A third now buy Fairtrade whenever possible, and 40% go for free-range products when they can.

Mintel say that the move towards ethical foods has been spurred by rising disposable income and a generally more affluent society, allowing people to live up to their ethics. A third of the adults polled believe it is worth paying more for responsible products such as locally sourced foods. The research also highlighted that 25% of shoppers believe that manufacturers should become more responsible about their ethical awareness.

Julie Sloan, senior market analyst at Mintel, said: "Ethical-food suppliers have traded on the fringes of the UK grocery market for many years and until recently only a few sectors, such as free-range eggs, had really established themselves. But now many more ethical products have entered the mainstream-foods sector, with leading suppliers and retailers becoming increasingly involved.

“In the present climate, many companies may be hoping to improve their profile by projecting a more ethical stance. But whatever their reasonings for choosing the ethical route, this movement is certainly a step in the right direction towards a more ethically-minded society. With these products becoming rapidly more widely available, the market is set to see substantial future growth."

70 ethical food products were launched in the UK last year, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database, up from 25 in 2002. So far this year, Mintel has recorded 53 new ethical food launches, with the beverages sector proving to be the most prolific producers of new ethical products.

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