Annual spending in the UK on ethical products and services surpassed £100 billion (€119.4 billion) in 2020, amounting to £122 billion (€145.7 billion), according to Co-op’s latest Ethical Consumerism Report.
The report, published on a yearly basis, has been tracking consumer shopping habits since 1999, when the total value of ethical consumer markets in the UK was £11.2 billion.
Sales of vegetarian and plant-based food and drinks have seen 34% growth, to approximately £1.5 billion, reflecting a change in the diets of the British consumers.
In addition, sales data from the Co-op UK has indicated that plant-based burgers have out-performed meat-based counterparts by 24% in 2021.
'A Barometer On Consumer Behaviour'
Steve Murrells, Co-op Group CEO, said, "Our Ethical Consumerism Report is a barometer on consumer behaviour, and shoppers are turning up the heat to boycott businesses that fail to act on ethical or social concerns.
"The report is a warning to brands that they must do business a better way for workers, communities and the planet, but it offers clear evidence to policy-makers that they can positively influence change."
Independent certification continues to be an important factor influencing consumers’ purchasing decisions, Co-op noted.
The Fairtrade, RSPCA Freedom Assured, and Rainforest Alliance brands all rose in value, while spending on MSC-certified sustainable fish fell from £899 million to £818 million.
The sales of free-range eggs exceeded £1 billion for the first time in 2020, helped by an increase in market volume as more supermarkets joined the Co-op in only selling free-range eggs.