Mintel Research Finds British Consumers are More Concerned About Animal Welfare Than the Environment And Tax Avoidance

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – When it comes to ethical claims made by food and drink companies, new research from Mintel finds that concerns over animal welfare tops the list, beating concerns about the environment and tax avoidance. (It is a known fact that the British are a nation of animal lovers.) This study of 1,500 U.K. consumers, shows that 74 percent want meat coming from animals that are looked after well and is among the top issues that make a food company ethical, followed by a company that guarantees the ingredients used in its products are responsibly sourced (60 percent) and a company that guarantees good worker welfare (57 percent). Moreover, consumers aren’t afraid to boycott brands that do not act ethically; half that’s 52 percent of consumers say they would stop buying products from a company if they found out it was acting unethically.

While ethics is becoming more ingrained into food and drink operators’ sourcing policies, it is a complex area and is important to get right. The fact that so many consumers would stop buying from a company acting unethically highlights that operators must ensure their operating standards are not just legally, but also ethically robust, or they risk boycotts and reputational damage. Social media also means that any accusation of unethical practice can spread fast.

It seems that there is a feel-good factor when buying ethical food products, as one in four consumers agree that where they shop for groceries depends on the range of ethical food products available; over two in five say that buying ethical groceries makes them feel good about themselves. Yet, Mintel’s research finds that there are some limitations for consumers when it comes to purchasing ethical food products. Half say they would only pay more for ethical products if they understood clearly where the extra money went and 52 percent say they find information about which foods are ethical confusing.

So, not only do consumers expect good ethical practices from operators, they also expect to be informed and reassured over why they’re paying extra and where the money is going. Cost remains a key barrier for many in buying ethical food and drink products. This study also looks at consumer attitudes towards innovative methods of producing food. One in six say that meat grown from animal cells in a production facility, sometimes known as lab-meat or in-vitro meat, is a good solution to help feed the world. What’s more, 16 percent say the same of meat or dairy foods sourced from cloned animals and the same proportion (16 percent) say the same of food grown using processed human waste as fertiliser.

This ethical behaviour is growing, as more people are looking for more information on ethical living and seeking more sustainable alternatives. The best way that brands can support this change of attitude is by providing availability, affordability, quality and clear communication around ethical products and services.

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