Despite troubling economic conditions over the last several years, a new study shows that buyers are still willing to pay more for ethical goods and services. The UK’s Co-Operative produces an annual Ethical Consumer Markets Report, which shows that since the start of the recession in 2008, the market for ethical goods and services has gone from $57.7 billion to $76.7 billion. This is also quite the leap from the $21.9 billion value in 1999.
The report looks into sales data from several different sectors including food, household goods, eco-friendly travel, and finance. One of the largest growing categories is sustainable fish, which has gone from $112 million at the start of the recession to $474.6 million. Fair trade has also grown significantly, from $744 million to $2 billion, and free range eggs have gone from $721.2 million to $1.287 billion. Organic produce has actually declined, going from $3.1 billion in 2008 to $2.44 billion.
“The report shows that intervention by enlightened business, together with regulatory intervention, is driving ethical sales growth,” says Barry Clavin, the Co-Operative’s Sustainability Reporting Manager. “During the downturn we’ve seen some of the biggest ever Fairtrade conversions, be it in chocolate or sugar, and business is beginning to respond to the challenge to provide consumers with more sustainable products and services such as fish, palm oil, and soya.”
He also added that it is important to remember that these numbers are only a small portion of total overall sales, and that a commitment to long-term ethical sales is crucial to sustaining an ecologically minded market.
How likely are you to pay a premium for ethical, fair trade goods? Does price factor in for you much?
Image CC licensed by gbcarmelite: Fairtrade goods