Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Recession fails to dampen UK demand for fair trade products but organic sector falters

February 2012

The strength of fair trade products in the UK is revealed in a study highlighting their continuing growth in the face of recession, a contrast to the sharp decline in the sales of similar goods such as organic products.

Research by the Co-operative Group shows that, while shoppers generally chose cheaper alternatives last year, lowering organic food and drink purchases by 10%, fair trade goods and services sales rose by 9% to nearly £47bn ($72bn, €56.7bn).

Ethical products were up across the board. The largest increases were in energy-saving and energy-producing products such as solar panels, up by 386%, and green cars. Financial and other services, including the emerging ‘green funeral’, rose sharply and fair trade food, especially fish, is proving resilient despite the downturn.

The industry appears to have usurped some organic items – the organic sector is now worth just £1.5bn, down from a peak of £2bn in 2008. However, ‘ethical’ sales have nearly tripled from their £13.5bn figure recorded in the first Co-operative report in 1999.

The Co-operative Group | UK & NI Ireland | Fair trade / Fairtrade

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