Ethical spending up 9% as UK consumer awareness increases



As awareness of ethical issues grow, UK consumers are increasingly opting to spend their money with brands that reflect their values and think about the impact their money is having, according to a new report.

The Annual Report from Ethical Consumer has been published since 1999 and is deigned to act as a barometer for ethical spending in the UK. The figures suggest that ethical spending increased by 9% in 2013, when compared to the previous year. The report argues that the performance looks particularly strong when it is compared with inflation and economic growth over the same period, which saw increases of 2.4% and 1.9% respectively.

Seeing the largest growth in the food and drink section were Freedom Food and free range eggs, both of which saw sales increase by 19%. Sustainable fish sales also saw impressive growth of 17%, and has seen increased media coverage in recent years, suggesting that it could see further improvement in coming reports.

The report also reveals that home renewable installation fell by 55% in 2013. The decrease has been linked to government policy as the generous feed-in-tariff scheme came to an end in April 2013.

When it comes to boycotting particular products, the number of consumers taking action fell by 27%. However, the report notes that the previous two years saw unusually high figures as a result of the horse meat scandal, affecting meat sales, and the Rana Plaza factory collapse, impacting clothing sales.

Almost a fifth of the UK population is currently operating a personal boycott over ethical issues by choosing not to purchase a product because of concerns. The biggest reason for avoiding certain products is animal welfare at 20%, followed by corporate practices at 18%. Labour standards and tax are also large concerns with 17% of consumers citing these as a reason for avoiding particular brands.

Photo: Ewan Munro via Flickr

Further reading:

Consumer demand drives illegal deforestation – report

Over 80% of consumers value sustainability

Supermarkets failing to meet consumer demand for sustainable fish

Ethical consumer market now worth £54bn in the UK – up 12% in 2012

Energy bills consumers’ top winter budget worry


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