Value of UK ethical markets grows to almost double that of tobacco

At £38bn, the UK’s ethical goods market is now worth twice that of tobacco, new research suggests

From electric cars to sustainably sourced fish, 2015 saw an average 8.5 per cent increase in sales of ethical goods, according to a new report.

The 2016 Ethical Consumer markets report, compiled by ethical rating body Ethical Consumer in partnership with Triodos Bank, shows that investment in the UK’s ethical goods and services sector entered its thirteenth year of growth in 2015 and, at £38bn, is now estimated to be worth almost double the UK tobacco market.

“This report shows that people are increasingly choosing to spend their money in ways that line up with their values,” says Huw Davies, head of retail banking at Triodos Bank.

“The growth of ethical and sustainable markets is an important reminder of the relevance of our financial decisions; where we spend, save and invest. Our money really can work for positive social, environmental and cultural change.”

Our money really can work for positive social, environmental and cultural change

The report, released on 28 December, pinpointed three major trends: the ‘green car revolution’ has continued to boom and is now worth £8.4bn due in part to improvements to electric charging infrastructure; and shopping locally for ethical reasons grew by 11.7 per cent in 2015. It also revealed that an estimated 53 per cent of people in the UK are choosing to avoid buying products or services over concerns about companies’ ethics.

Rob Harrison, editor of Ethical Consumer magazine, believes these trends can be explained in part by an increased range of ethical products from which people can now choose.

“More companies, from small entrepreneurs to large multinationals, are bringing more ethical choices than ever before to modern consumer markets,” Harrison says. “The increasing availability of positive alternative products in many markets means that consumers are finding it easier to make more ethical choices.”

The survey, which calculates the value of UK sales from a range of ethical products and services, has been published each year since 1999.

Harrison said the findings provided “encouraging news for many people in these otherwise troubled political times”.

Photo: Julian Fong

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