The ethical consumer market, most notably the food and drink sector, grew by more than 12% in 2012 despite the global recession, according to findings by Ethical Consumer magazine.
Its latest report says that the food and drink sector alone grew by 36% in 2012 and is now worth over £10 billion, while sale of products certified by the Rainforest Alliance grew by 47%. The figures follow data from the Fairtrade Foundation in February that said the Fairtrade sector grew by 14% in 2013.
Overall, it Ethical Consumer says that ethical shopping in the UK is now worth £54 billion, more than cigarette and alcohol spending. This is the case despite the UK economy growing by only 0.2% in 2012.
Rob Harrison, director at Ethical Consumer magazine, commented, “The annual Ethical Consumer Markets Reports have shown significant growth each year since the onset of the recession. This clearly demonstrates that the trend towards ethical buying is not a luxury, which consumers choose to drop when the going gets tough, but is an established and increasingly important consumer sector.
“In some markets where ethical purchasing has been established for many years such as bananas, coffee and free-range eggs, a dominant market-share for ethical products is now on the horizon.”
The sale of micro-generation renewable energy systems increased by 50%, and the report also identified new flourishing sectors, such as fair trade jewellery and co-consumption. Car tax Band A vehicle sales saw a 157% sale increase.
The report also found that consumers boycotted £3.6 billion worth of goods and services on ethical grounds in 2012 – a 37% increase since 2010. Top reasons for boycott were human rights abuse and tax avoidance by corporations.