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Planet over price

Concerns around ethics and sustainability are driving changes in grocery shopping
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Planet over price

Almost two-thirds of Brits (equivalent to 32.2m people) now consider themselves ‘ethical or sustainable grocery shoppers’, and 36% say ethical or sustainable considerations are the most important factor in their grocery shopping.

These are the headline findings of a survey of 2,000 UK grocery shoppers. It was commissioned by natural food company Wessanen UK, best known for its brands Clipper Teas, Kallo, Whole Earth and Mrs Crimble’s.

44% of respondents said they ‘always’ or ‘often’ look to buy ethically and/or sustainably produced groceries, and over a third said they have been considering ethical and sustainability issues more often when grocery shopping over the last 12 months.

The Co-op ranked highest as the supermarket that helps Brits live ethically and sustainably, closely followed by Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and M&S.

Doing good vs saving money

Shows like the BBC’s Blue Planet have prompted over a third (37%) of respondents to think more sustainably, and concern for the environment is now a driver for conscious purchasing for over a half of consumers (54%).

The other key reasons cited for buying sustainable or ethical groceries include being ‘the right thing to do’ (48%) and buying products because they are produced more honestly and fairly (48%).

Despite 60% of Brits self-identifying as ‘ethical or sustainable shoppers’, the research found that price is still a barrier for many.

76% of respondents overall cited ‘low prices and good value’ as the most important considerations when buying groceries – more than double the 36% for whom the impact on the planet is the most important factor.

According to the research, Fairtrade is the most recognised ethical label, with 62% claiming to actively look for this logo when grocery shopping.

‘It’s really encouraging to see positive ethical shopping intentions and wider sustainable behaviours are on the increase, although people’s desire to do good is still often superseded by their desire to save money.

‘As a B-Corp certified company, we believe in doing business in a way that’s best for the world, and it’s our mission to help more consumers understand why it’s worth paying a little more for sustainable and ethical goods if they can afford to. Small changes to shopping habits can make a huge difference to both the planet and the lives of people around the world working to produce food more responsibly.’

CEO at Wessanen UK

A price premium

The research also explored factors that would persuade shoppers to buy ethical or sustainable products more often.

35% said clearer labelling would help, 47% felt wider availability would make a difference, and just over half (52%) said that price parity with non-sustainable or non-ethical goods would sway them.

39% of shoppers felt that ethical and sustainable products should be the same price as ‘normal’ products, though another 39% said a price premium of up to 10% was fair.

‘In these tough economic times, it’s natural that price is a key consideration for many grocery shoppers. But it’s worth remembering that lower costs at the till can often mean higher costs to the environment. We’re determined to reframe the way people think about value when grocery shopping – away from just price, and towards a wider appreciation of the priceless value of ethical and sustainable food production to our world.’

CEO at Wessanen UK


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