30 June 2008

Blighty Ethical




According to Foodweek
ethical food purchases are now considered mainstream, with the British said to be leading the trend for ethical food shopping in Europe.


New research from international food and grocery expert IGD revealed that tens of millions of shoppers across Europe regularly consider factors such as organic, Fair Trade or local sourcing when making food purchasing decisions. Furthermore, British shoppers are significantly more likely to purchase ethically, IGD’s Ethical Shopping in Europe report shows.


“Until recently, ethical food shoppers were seen as niche,” said chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch. “Now as many as seven out of 10 Europeans we surveyed buy ethically at least some of the time, and a quarter are dedicated shoppers who consider two or more ethical factors when shopping.


“Priorities vary across Europe: the French are most interested in environmental issues; the Dutch are concerned about animal welfare; local sourcing is a priority for Poles whereas British shoppers are interested in a wide range of ethical issues. But there is immense growth potential for brands that can develop and emphasise ethical credentials, and tailor them to local markets at the appropriate time,” she added.


The report unveils strikingly different behaviours and priorities around Europe.


Britain is at the forefront of the ethical shopping market, with 41% incorporating more than one ethical issue into their buying decisions. British shoppers are most likely to follow through their interest in ethical products into actual purchases and in particular, more likely to buy free range or Fair Trade products.


One in three (34%) German or Dutch shoppers are dedicated ethical shoppers, while 31% of French shoppers are dedicated ethical shoppers. However, France has an additional 37% of shoppers who only sporadically buy ethical products. Fewer than one in seven Spaniards (12%) or Poles (14%) are dedicated ethical shoppers.


Price (54%) and availability (36%) are seen as key barriers to the further growth of ethical shopping across Europe.


“The current combination of rising commodity prices and the global credit crunch could slow the rise of ethical shopping but is unlikely to reverse it. Ethical shopping is based on deep-seated beliefs and people will not backtrack on these lightly,” said Denney-Finch.


“Increasingly, shoppers want products that combine ethical advantages, rather than a single issue. The challenge is for companies to communicate and label clearly to help shoppers navigate through this wide range of issues.”
Denney-Finch said that the European food and grocery industry is embracing ethical and sustainable practices, but there are clear opportunities for those who go further.


“The winning companies of tomorrow will combine value with sustainability and develop new products and services at a competitive price for increasingly eco-conscious and socially-conscious consumers.”

Foodweek online.



2 comments:

t h e - g o b b l e r said...

Interesting post Sticky. I wonder is it the more wealthy shoppers that are spending ethically or are the less well of doing so also?

Two quotes that stuck out for me were:
Increasingly, shoppers want products that combine ethical advantages, rather than a single issue.
And
“The winning companies of tomorrow will combine value with sustainability and develop new products and services at a competitive price for increasingly eco-conscious and socially-conscious consumers.”

Firstly, I am cynical that this consumer mapping is being analysed so, for what purpose? Is it so marketers can attach some more attractive propositions to the product for consumers to feel warm & fuzzy, a kind of ethical-consumerism-lite?
Secondly, that phrase ‘the winning companies’ sounds completely at odds with the whole notion of consuming ethically. It implies that there are losers. So are they saying that the move to produce ethically is not a fundamental shift toward doing things differently or merely just another way to cash in on the shift toward buying ethically?

stickyfingers said...

Thanks Gobbler.

Wearing my 'marketing hat' I have read a great deal on the subject and in the last few months have consulted to food companies on the food trends that they should be aware of in order to develop new products. Ethical, Fair Trade, Carbon Neutral, SOLE, Slow Food etc naturally pop up in discussion.

I do this because I - perhaps naively - believe that a turnaround in consumer trends will be aided by manufacturers shifting to service the community. Not everyone will be able to buy directly from small producers whether because of cost or geographical location, so supermarkets will always serve the popular mass. Hopefully 'the losers' will be companies that ignore the trend towards ethical purchasing and will then drop out of the supply chain.

This trend had its roots years ago with free range produce and recyclable packaging. As the mainstream consumers became aware of these choices, the door opened to other streams of planet conscious production.

Global warming films and advertising messages are making an impact on children who in some countries are driving their parent's purchasing behaviour towards more socially conscious goods across multiple demographics, hence the 70% of people considering ethical causes in some of their purchases. The impact for the future is evident in the recently reported statistic that 70% of children under 4years old in Australia eat organic produce.

In recognising this, European Private Label or Home brand products are increasingly also offering ethical and Fairtrade choices, servicing a broader market. And we are now seeing evidence of that here - allowing people on tighter budgets to also choose ethical and Fairtrade products wrapped in recyclable packaging.