When asked about 12 key ethical concerns in a recent survey the company conducted, an average of 57% of consumers said that they “care a lot.” Air pollution, animal cruelty, and ocean pollution in particular were the three most important issues, with response rates of “care a lot” at more than 60%
High levels of awareness and concern appear to be translating to the purchases being made at supermarket checkouts, but not wholly. While half of consumers said that they were prepared to pay more for products devoted to solving the aforementioned ethical issues, an average of only 9% name environmental, social, or ethical aspects as something they consider important while buying groceries. Nonetheless, the number of these consumers increased by 7% since last year.
Plant-based foods have a clear, widespread association with ethics compared to other food and drink products.
“A total of 22% of meat substitutes shoppers name environmental or ethical issues as a clear reason for purchase,” Lu Ann Williams, head of innovation at Innova Market Insights, said. “This makes ethics the third most important consideration in this rapidly expanding market, after health and taste, and the response rate is more than four times the average for all product categories.”
Launches of new foods and beverages with attached ethical claims have been increasing steadily in recent years, and appeals to ethics are seen as a growing niche by product innovators. Innova reports that COVID-19 may have a lasting impact on shopping in the coming years. A significant number of job losses related to the pandemic will leave many consumers in financial struggle, and, as a result, some may not be able to afford to shop as ethically as they otherwise would. On the flip side, Innova reports that many populations have developed a “stronger community spirit” during the crisis, and those who emerge economically unscathed may actually increase their ethical spending, particularly where local causes are concerned.