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The Ethical Food Consumer - UK - April 2019

Covered in this report

This report explores UK consumers’ attitudes towards ethical issues in the food and drink supply chain. It also explores their ethical food and drink shopping behaviour.

The definition of ‘ethical’ in this report is broad, covering for example, but not limited to, animal welfare, environmental welfare and worker welfare, and other such issues that businesses might cover as part of their corporate social responsibility commitments/ strategies. Due to the diverse nature of this subject not all areas can be explored within the remit of this report.

“Widespread consumer doubts over whether their buying choices truly make a difference make it crucial for companies to explain to consumers the benefits to wider society of buying certified products. This would serve both to reassure the doubtful and tap into the strong feel-good factor around ethical food and drink.”
– Alice Baker, Research Analyst

This Report looks at the following areas:

  • Various options for companies to overcome the price barrier
  • Educate consumers about ethical food and drink to boost uptake
  • Need to reassure consumers that their actions make a difference

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Strong sales growth for ethical food and drink over 2013-18
              • Inflation and slowing volume sales anticipated for 2019-23
                • Figure 1: Retail value sales of food and drink with selected leading ethical certifications^, 2013-23
              • War on plastic continues
                • Food waste comes under increased government scrutiny
                  • Companies and brands
                    • Companies take action on plastic
                      • More free-range claims in animal welfare
                        • Sustainability is a major theme in advertising over 2017-19
                          • The consumer
                            • Eight in ten adults have bought food/drink with ethical certifications
                              • Free-range is the most widely bought food with ethical certification
                                • Figure 2: Awareness and purchase of food/drink with ethical certifications, by type, February 2019
                              • Various factors underpin buying of ethical food and drink
                                • Figure 3: Reasons for buying ethical food and drink, February 2019
                              • Price is the principal barrier to buying ethical food and drink
                                • Figure 4: Barriers to buying ethical food and drink, February 2019
                              • Animal welfare, packaging and food waste are key influences on food and drink buying
                                • Figure 5: Important factors in food and drink buying decisions, February 2019
                              • Ethical aspects encourage loyalty and spark the feel-good factor
                                • Figure 6: Behaviours relating to ethical food and drink, February 2019
                              • Future direction of the economy is crucial for ethical food and drink
                                • Figure 7: Attitudes towards ethical food and drink, February 2019
                              • What we think
                              • Issues and Insights

                                • Various options for companies to overcome the price barrier
                                  • The facts
                                    • The implications
                                      • Educate consumers about ethical food and drink to boost uptake
                                        • The facts
                                          • The implications
                                            • Need to reassure consumers that their actions make a difference
                                              • The facts
                                                • The implications
                                                • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                  • Strong sales growth for ethical food and drink over 2013-18
                                                    • Inflation and slowing volume sales anticipated for 2019-23
                                                      • War on plastic continues
                                                        • Food waste comes under increased government scrutiny
                                                        • Market Size, Segmentation and Forecast

                                                          • Increased distribution drives rapid growth in ethically certified food and drink over 2013-18
                                                            • Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance become increasingly mainstream
                                                              • Supermarkets build up their organic ranges
                                                                • MSC-certified fish and shellfish rapidly gains retail share
                                                                  • Figure 8: Value sales of food and drink with selected leading ethical certifications, 2013-18
                                                                • Inflation and improved household incomes boost sales in 2018
                                                                  • Sales growth to slow over 2019-23
                                                                    • Inflation expected in line with overall food market 2019-23
                                                                      • Figure 9: Retail value sales of food and drink with selected leading ethical certifications^, 2013-23
                                                                      • Figure 10: Retail value sales of food and drink with selected leading ethical certifications^, 2013-23
                                                                    • Forecast methodology
                                                                    • Market Drivers

                                                                      • War on plastic continues
                                                                        • Government tax plans add urgency for manufacturers to use recycled plastic
                                                                          • Companies which switch to recycled packaging early should benefit
                                                                            • Governments plan to introduce deposit return schemes for drinks packaging
                                                                              • Supermarkets trial deposit return schemes
                                                                                • Technical issues for manufacturers in creating biodegradable packaging
                                                                                  • Initiative to turn food waste into plastic packaging receives government funding
                                                                                    • Food waste comes under increased government scrutiny
                                                                                      • Widespread concerns about food waste among consumers
                                                                                        • Retailers and manufacturers commit to halving food waste by 2030
                                                                                          • Supermarkets take various steps to limit avoidable food waste
                                                                                            • UK’s low self-sufficiency in food raises concerns
                                                                                              • Questions surround Brexit and its potential impact on legislation
                                                                                                • State of the economy is crucial for ethical food and drink
                                                                                                  • Figure 11: CPI vs average weekly earnings, January 2013-October 2018
                                                                                                • Scientists advise the public to reduce meat and dairy consumption
                                                                                                  • Strong growth for meat-free foods and dairy alternatives
                                                                                                    • Animal welfare concerns help to drive the meat reduction trend
                                                                                                      • Parliamentary committee calls for international agreement to protect the world’s oceans
                                                                                                        • Livestock industry makes progress on antibiotics reduction
                                                                                                          • Eat organic meat and poultry to help combat antibiotic resistance, advises the Chief Medical Officer
                                                                                                          • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                            • Companies take action on plastic
                                                                                                              • More free-range claims in animal welfare
                                                                                                                • Sustainability is a major theme in advertising over 2017-19
                                                                                                                • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                                  • Overview
                                                                                                                    • Environmentally friendly packaging remains the leading ethical claim
                                                                                                                      • Figure 12: Launches in the UK food and drink market, by selected ethical claims, 2015-19
                                                                                                                    • Bottled water brands explore recycled plastic
                                                                                                                      • Figure 13: Evian water bottles made with 50% recycled plastic, 2018
                                                                                                                    • Leading and smaller brands turn to recycled plastic for sweet treat packaging
                                                                                                                      • Figure 14: Thorntons explores use of part-recycled plastic, 2019
                                                                                                                    • Brands and retailers take action on plastic waste
                                                                                                                      • Supermarkets remove plastic packaging from fresh produce
                                                                                                                        • Replacing black plastic
                                                                                                                            • Figure 15: Examples of ready meals launches using alternatives to black plastic, 2019
                                                                                                                          • The Collective alters dye for yogurt pot lids
                                                                                                                            • M&S launches ‘plastic take-back’ initiative
                                                                                                                              • Various brands link with Terracycle on recycling schemes
                                                                                                                                • Figure 16: Hovis Facebook advert for its recycling scheme, 2018
                                                                                                                              • Baby food brand launches ‘zero waste’ scheme
                                                                                                                                • Supermarkets invite shoppers to bring in their own containers for meat and fish
                                                                                                                                  • Asda looks to encourage recycling with milk bottle app
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 17: Asda promotes its recycling app on on-pack labels for its own-label milk, 2019
                                                                                                                                  • Biodegradable claims remain rare
                                                                                                                                    • Leading and niche brands release biodegradable tea bags
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 18: Examples of tea launches with compostable tea bags, 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Niche coffee brand unveils biodegradable coffee pods
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 19: Example of biodegradable coffee capsules, 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Multiple claims used to build all-round ethical positioning
                                                                                                                                      • PG Tips goes biodegradable and puts stronger emphasis on Rainforest Alliance links
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 20: PG Tips makes multiple ethical and environmental claims, February 2018
                                                                                                                                      • Smaller brands highlight eco-friendly packaging and charity links
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 21: Smaller brands highlight eco-friendly packaging and charity links, summer 2018
                                                                                                                                      • Rise in sustainable claims
                                                                                                                                        • Tesco completes move to 100% sustainable chocolate
                                                                                                                                          • Free-from brands are the most active in promoting their use of alternative energy
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 22: Examples of free-from launches referencing use of alternative energy on-pack, 2018
                                                                                                                                          • Dairy brands flag up their green credentials
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 23: Examples of dairy launches referencing use of alternative energy on-pack, 2018
                                                                                                                                          • Start-up looks to set new standard on sustainable fish
                                                                                                                                            • Iceland launches fish fillets bag of solely bycatch species
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 24: Iceland puts the spotlight on lesser-known fish species, September 2018
                                                                                                                                            • Iceland removes palm oil across its own label range
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 25: Iceland flags up the absence of palm oil on-pack, 2018
                                                                                                                                            • New packaging features aim to prevent food waste
                                                                                                                                              • Organic brands look to make the benefits of organic more tangible
                                                                                                                                                • Sweet treats highlight soil health and supporting the local environment
                                                                                                                                                  • Organic tea brand makes conservation statement
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 26: Organic brands look to make the environmental benefits more tangible, 2018-19
                                                                                                                                                  • Animal welfare claims remain niche
                                                                                                                                                    • Free-range claims appear on white milk…
                                                                                                                                                      • …spoonable and drinking yogurts…
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 27: Examples of free-range milk and yogurt launches, 2017-19
                                                                                                                                                      • …and cream
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 28: The Free Range Dairy Facebook advert for its clotted cream, 2019
                                                                                                                                                      • New fruit and vegetables brand aims to make organic more affordable
                                                                                                                                                      • Start-ups and Disruptors Case Studies – Toast Ale

                                                                                                                                                        • Company overview
                                                                                                                                                          • What is it?
                                                                                                                                                            • Founded
                                                                                                                                                              • Company mission statement
                                                                                                                                                                • Founders’ story
                                                                                                                                                                  • Mintel analyst view
                                                                                                                                                                    • Mintel Trends
                                                                                                                                                                      • Why it could succeed
                                                                                                                                                                        • Why it could fail
                                                                                                                                                                          • The verdict
                                                                                                                                                                            • Product information
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 29: Toast Ale, March 2019
                                                                                                                                                                            • Media profile
                                                                                                                                                                              • Social media metrics
                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 30: Social media metrics for company as of March 2019
                                                                                                                                                                              • The brand’s view
                                                                                                                                                                                • Revenue in the last year (as of 1st December 2018):
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Sources of funding and support
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Target audience
                                                                                                                                                                                      • What consumer needs does the range meet?
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Product stockists
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Looking to the future
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Start-ups and Disruptors Case Studies – Garçon Wines

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Company overview
                                                                                                                                                                                              • What is it?
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Founded
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Company mission statement
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Founders’ story
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Mintel analyst view
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mintel Trends
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Why it could succeed
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Why it could fail
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • The verdict
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Product information
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Media profile
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Social media metrics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 31: Social media metrics for Garçon Wines as of March 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • The brand’s view
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Sources of funding and support
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Target audience:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • What consumer needs does the range meet?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Product stockists
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Looking to the future
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Advertising and Marketing Activity

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Overview
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Tesco presents sustainable chocolate as extra permissible
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 32: Outdoor advert from Tesco promoting its sustainable chocolate sourcing, 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Supermarkets focus on provenance and traceability
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • The Co-op plays up support for farmers and communities
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Morrisons emphasizes close relationship with suppliers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Waitrose highlights responsible sourcing for fish and dairy cows’ grazing access
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Iceland Christmas advert reignites the palm oil controversy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 33: Iceland anti-palm oil Christmas TV advert, 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • War on plastic ramps up
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Soda Stream urges the public to give up bottled water to save the planet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 34: Soda Stream ‘Time for a Change’ TV advert, 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Thames Water also moves against bottled water
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 35: Thames Valley ‘Tap Tastic Not Plastic’ direct mail advert, 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • WWF runs the #UseLessPlastic twitter campaign
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Animal welfare
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Vegan groups continue to criticise the dairy industry
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 36: Anti-dairy adverts from vegan organisations, 2017-18
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 37: Advert from Viva! Mother’s Day campaign, 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • High-welfare dairy systems take to social media
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 38: YouTube adverts from high-welfare dairy systems, 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • CIWF brings to light the ‘sad truth about parmesan’
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Riverford portrays organic eggs as the best option to ensure animal welfare
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Veganuary urges the Prime Minister to join the campaign
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 39: Veganuary outdoor advert, 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Organic UK portrays organic food as better for environment and health
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • …and looks to explain the meaning of organic
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Eight in ten adults have bought food/drink with ethical certifications
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Free-range is the most widely bought food with ethical certification
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Various factors underpin buying ethical food and drink
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Price is the principal barrier to buying ethical food and drink
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Animal welfare, packaging and food waste are key influences on food and drink buying
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Ethical aspects encourage loyalty and spark the feel-good factor
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Future direction of the economy is crucial for ethical food and drink
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Awareness and Purchase of Food and Drink with Ethical Certifications

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Eight in ten adults have bought food/drink with ethical certifications
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 40: Awareness and purchase of food/drink with selected ethical certifications, February 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Over-55s are key buyers of ethical food and drink
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • More women than men buy ethically certified food and drink
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Over half of adults buy three or more types of ethical food and drink
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 41: Buying repertoire of food/drink with ethical certifications, February 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Awareness and Purchase of Food and Drink with Ethical Certifications by Type

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Free-range is the most widely bought food with ethical certification
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • No bias in free-range buying by financial health
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 42: Awareness and purchase of food/drink with ethical certifications, by type, February 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Free-range milk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Half of adults buy Fairtrade food and drink
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Fairtrade should benefit from highlighting its environmental credentials more
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Environmental sustainability chimes most with under-35s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Urgent need in some categories to reassure younger consumers on the environment
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Reasons for Buying Ethical Food and Drink

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Animal welfare is the top reason for buying ethical food and drink
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 43: Reasons for buying ethical food and drink, February 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Four in ten buyers are driven by environmental concerns
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Strong overlap between animal welfare and environmental considerations
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 44: Examples of food launches with both an animal welfare and an environmentally friendly packaging/product claim, 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • A desire to avoid unwanted ingredients motivates a quarter of buyers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Younger Millennials are especially likely to see certified products as healthier than standard versions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Organic buyers see a strong health halo for certified food/drink
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • …as do buyers of MSC fish
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 45: Example of MSC-certified product promoting wild-caught fish as a healthier choice, 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Barriers to Buying Ethical Food and Drink

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Price is the principal barrier to buying ethical food and drink
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 46: Barriers to buying ethical food and drink, February 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Need for retailers to highlight where ethical products do not carry a price premium
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Presenting ethical products as the savvy option should boost sales
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Discounters can help to drive uptake
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Consumers’ trust in standard products hinders uptake of ethical food and drink for a small minority
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • One in five are unsure about what the different certifications stand for
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Need for producers to make their differences from standard practice more tangible
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Important Factors in Food and Drink Buying Decisions

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Animal welfare sways 45% of food and drink buyers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 47: Important factors in food and drink buying decisions, February 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Strong overlap in interest in welfare of animals and supporting farmers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • High-welfare producers are not getting the full benefit of consumer concerns around animal welfare
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Making animal welfare policies more tangible would help high-welfare systems to attract ‘missing’ users
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Videos of farms would help to tangibly demonstrate welfare standards and transparency
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Environmentally friendly packaging is valued by four in ten
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Consumer expectations add to the urgency for companies to tackle plastic waste
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Need for companies using sustainably sourced cardboard to highlight this more strongly on-pack
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 48: Examples of food/drink launches highlighting sustainable cardboard sourcing, 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Food waste is neck-and-neck with packaging in consumers’ priorities
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • In-store recipe cards on using up leftovers would help to reduce food waste
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Strong overlap in packaging and food waste concerns
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 49: Waitrose pasta with packaging made partly from food waste, 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Over-55s are particularly keen to support local producers/farmers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Promoting local produce would help to spark the feel-good factor
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Antibiotic-free labels appeal to a quarter
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Behaviours Relating to Ethical Food and Drink

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Seven in ten adults have made efforts to reduce plastic packaging use
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Concerns about food waste set challenge for companies looking to reduce packaging
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Many are amenable towards using their own containers at supermarkets
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Eco-friendly packaging is well-placed to appeal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 50: Behaviours relating to ethical food and drink, February 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Half of adults are loyal to companies whose ethics align with their own
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Need to put ethical claims directly in the path of shoppers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Strong feel-good factor around ethical food and drink buying
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Need to reassure consumers that their actions make a difference
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Attitudes towards Ethical Food and Drink

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Widespread expectations on retailers to reduce packaging waste
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 51: Attitudes towards ethical food and drink, February 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Future direction of the economy is crucial for ethical food and drink
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • High-welfare producers can benefit from promoting a ‘less but better’ mentality
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Widespread uncertainty over whether independent ethical schemes are superior to those from companies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Ethical buying is strongly linked with social image for the young
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Forecast methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 52: Forecast of UK value sales of food and drink with selected leading ethical certifications^, best- and worst-case, 2018-23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Ethical Food Consumer - UK - April 2019

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