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Ethical food sales growing

A new report by market analyst Mintel indicates that UK consumers are set to spend over £2bn this year on free range, fair trade and organic products. This ‘ethical revolution’ has seen sales rise by 62 per cent in the past four years.

While supermarkets once competed in price wars over bread and baked beans to attract customers, they are now expanding their “conscience-light” ranges to cope with increased demand.

Crucially, the Mintel research found one third of adults now believe it is worth paying more for food that is fair trade, organic and locally sourced.

One in three consumers say they buy fair trade products whenever they are available, compared with one in four in 2002. Four out of ten people always try to buy free-range food such as chicken and eggs, up from 33 per cent four years ago.

Julie Sloan, senior market analyst at Mintel, said: “Ethical food suppliers have traded on the fringes of the UK grocery market for many years but until recently only a few sectors, such as free-range eggs, had really established themselves.

“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.”

She added: “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.”

Written by Maxine Frith, Social Affairs correspondent at The Independent

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