European shoppers poised to buy more ethical groceries

Half (49%) of shoppers across four European countries expect to be buying more food and grocery products with ethical credentials in future, according to new research published by international food and grocery analysts IGD.

IGD surveyed 2,700 shoppers about ethical issues during summer 2010 in Great Britain, Germany, France and Spain.

Top of the list of ethical issues that interest shoppers is food from their local area, with a third (35%) saying they will buy more in the future. Next is Fairtrade (24%) and animal welfare (also 24%), while organic is supported by a fifth (21%) of shoppers.

Interest in ethical shopping is varied among the four countries surveyed, however. British and German shoppers, for example, expect to be buying more local and regional food in the future, while organic is increasingly popular in France and Spain.

Other findings* of the study include:

Animal welfare

  • 28% of shoppers in Britain expect to be buying more products with high animal welfare standards in the future
  • 30% of French shoppers feel the same
  • In Germany this figure is 8%
  • And in Spain 10%

Local and regional food

  • 38% of British shoppers expect to buy more in the future
  • 35% in France
  • 30% in Germany
  • 15% in Spain

Fairtrade products

  • 31% of British shoppers expect to buy more Fairtrade products in the future
  • 24% in France
  • 10% in Germany
  • 7% in Spain


  • 9% of British shoppers expect to buy more organic groceries in the future
  • 20% in France
  • 18% in Germany
  • 7% in Spain

Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive, IGD, said: “Shoppers respond to the list of ethical issues in different ways. Only 7% are interested in almost every ethical consideration relating to food. The majority focus on a smaller number of issues individual to them. So it’s a complicated picture, even when we look at neighbouring European countries.

“The good news is that shoppers expect to buy more across all categories of ethical food and drink products in the future. For grocery businesses across Europe this presents a big challenge and a huge opportunity. The industry is continuing to invest in both ethical products and sustainable ways of working. This shopper research suggests their efforts will not go unrewarded.”

*All figures are net (those who will buy more minus those who will buy less)