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New report reveals third of UK grocery shoppers prioritise planet over price

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Almost two thirds of Brits now consider themselves ethical or sustainable grocery shoppers, with 36 per cent saying ethical or sustainable considerations are the most important factor in their grocery shopping.

That is according to new research from Wessanen UK, which has the Clipper Teas, Kallo and Whole Earth brands in its portfolio, and which carried out research of over 2,000 UK grocery shoppers.

It was found that 44 per cent of Brits say they ‘always’ or ‘often’ look to buy ethically and/or sustainably produced groceries, 37 per cent say they have been considering ethical and sustainability issues more often when grocery shopping over the last 12 months, while 34 per cent say they would be willing to pay more for products which are certified ethical – the same proportion who would pay more for products which use less plastic and packaging.

Other findings in the report included that over a third of shoppers (39 per cent) said a price premium for ethical and sustainable groceries of up to 10 per cent was fair, and that 56 per cent of shoppers are using fewer plastic bags and 40 per cent are avoiding single use plastic compared to a year ago.

Fairtrade is the most recognised ethical label, with 62 per cent claiming to actively look for this logo when grocery shopping, and shows like the BBC’s Blue Planet have prompted over a third (37 per cent) 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 per cent).

But despite 60 per cent of Brits self-identifying as ‘ethical or sustainable shoppers’, the research found that price is still a barrier for many, with 76 per cent of respondents overall citing ‘low prices and good value’ as the most important considerations when buying groceries – still more than double the 36 per cent for whom the impact on the planet is the most important factor.

Emma Vass, CEO at Wessanen UK, commented: “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intentions and wider sustainable behaviours are on the increase, although people’s desire to do good is still often superseded by their desire to save money. 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.”

The research also explored factors that would persuade shoppers to buy ethical or sustainable products more often; 35 per cent said clearer labelling would help, 47 per cent felt wider availability would make a difference, and just over half (52 per cent) said that price parity with non-sustainable or non-ethical goods would sway them.

“In these tough economic times, it’s natural that price is a key consideration for many grocery shoppers,” Vass added. “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.”

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