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Local is No 1 Choice for Ethical Shoppers 01.10.07

Local produce is the number one ethical choice for British shoppers, and six out of 10 of us now actively try to buy local products according to ’Britain’s Ethical Shopper; Which Way Now?’ from IGD and Nielsen

“Environmental issues can cover a broad range of initiatives and perceptions, and consumers are responding in an increasingly positive way to many of them,” explains Gerardine Padbury, Senior Consumer Analyst, IGD. ”The appeal of local products, for example, is higher than any other ethical alternative and furthermore, these are rapidly gaining popularity. In June this year, 19% more people said they actively try to buy local than in February.”

Louise Boitoult, Business Insight Director, Nielsen, adds: “Retailers’ support of local products and the local community is very important to shoppers – 47% told us that they would change where they shop if they thought another retailer sold more locally produced items.”

The fastest growing ethical alternative is energy efficient products or appliances. Around 80% more people said that they actively try to buy these items mid-year than did at the beginning. “A product which is environmentally friendly and has the potential to reduce energy bills fits today’s consumer agenda perfectly as we enter into a period of more cautious spending,” says Ms Boitoult. “Initiatives such as low energy light bulbs are one way the grocery industry has helped to take this concept mass market.”

The number of Britons choosing food products with minimal or no packaging has also surged. Shoppers who say they actively tried to buy products with little or no packaging rose by 22% in the same period – it ranks as the second most popular ethical choice, with the second fastest growth rate.

“The fact that the number of shoppers buying products with little or no packaging went up from 45% to 55% in such a short space of time shows just how high up the consumer agenda environmental issues have become since the beginning of the year,” explains Ms Padbury.

“The fortnightly rotation of waste collection between recycling and landfill rubbish is being implemented by many councils, putting household waste at the forefront of consumers’ minds. It makes sense that they are aiming to reduce waste by simply avoiding buying over-packaged goods,” adds Ms Boitoult.

“The survey also shows that the majority of people are actively involved in recycling initiatives, especially for paper (94%), glass (85%) and cans (81%). It has been made easier for consumers to recycle these materials due to doorstep or kerbside collections,” concludes Ms Padbury. “There is some way to go with vegetable waste (49%), and items such as batteries (21%). Only 3% of us do not recycle anything.”

Peter Shield

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