The total annual value of ethical purchasing in the United Kingdom has reached record levels, according to a new report, which is now at £41bn. The reported noted that the amount was for products in purchased in the food, drinks, clothing, energy and eco-travel segments.
According to the new study from Co-op, in the past 20 years, the total spending that consumers in the UK do for ethical purchasing has grown by almost four times and the amount is now more than all UK household expenditure – which has hardly seen any growth in the same period.
The Ethical Consumerism report issued by the convenience retailer has been made by it for the last two decades and identifies ethical expenditure year by year (adjusted for inflation). The report is also considered to be a good way to measure the scope and extent of shopping habits of UK consumers’ that show how the consumers are getting aware of and more concerned about issues in the environment, animal welfare, social justice and human rights.
Compared to the total annual market for ethical purchasing in the UK was £11.2bn in 1999, the report (which adjusts for inflation) noted that the market has now touched about £41.1bn calculating such purchases even on a conservative basis. And compared to a meager £202 a year in 1999, the total average annual spending on ethical purchases per household has reached £1,278 in 2018. But according to the Office for National Statistics, there has only been a 2 per cent growth in the total general household expenditure in the country in the same 20-year period.
Compared to a spending of just over £1bn in 1999, at an annual spend of £12bn last year, the largest ethical purchasing segment was the ethical food and drink which includes Fairtrade, organic, vegetarian and plant-based alternatives and free-range eggs.
According to the estimates of Co-op, the total Fairtrade market in the UK is almost £290m a year on Fairtrade bananas alone compared to a total worth of just £22m for the entire UK Fairtrade market twenty years ago. The total value of the entire retail Fairtrade market is now estimated ot be at £1.6bn.
Back in May 1992, the first UK supermarket to put Fairtrade coffee on its shelves was the Co-op. That was two years before the formation of the Fairtrade Foundation. However with companies breaking away from Fairtrade and launching their own “ethical” alternatives, that movement has been hit in recent times.
“We should rightly celebrate the growth that we’ve seen in ethical markets in the UK over the last 20 years. UK businesses and NGOs have pioneered many of these developments and today we have multi-billion pound markets that either didn’t exist or if they did, other mainstream businesses were unconvinced of their potential to succeed. Ethical consumerism will continue to play a pivotal role in the pursuit of more sustainable products, businesses and markets. However, now is not the time to rest on our laurels, it’s the time double down on our efforts,” said Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)