Ethical food trend shifts from animals to packaging, Mintel

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Coffee Mintel

Food and beverage products marketed as ‘ethical’ have soared across Europe over the past five years, with a key focus in the ‘ethical trend’ being environmentally friendly packaging, according to Mintel.

A post market analysis by the market researcher found that between 2005 and 2010 to date, there have been 17,208 food and drink products launched in Europe that make some claim towards being ethical.

Between 2005 and 2009, Mintel identified a 963 per cent increase in product launches in the category, from 445 products in 2005 to 4,732 last year.

Changing ethics

As well as the overall growth in the sector, statistics from Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) also reveal a key shift in the focus of ‘ethical’ products: from animal-friendly to environment-friendly products.

In 2005, animal friendly food and drinks were the most popular ethical product launches, with 249 new launches that year. By 2009, the number of new introductions in this category more than doubled to 534.

However, the most impressive growth was seen in products claiming to have environmentally friendly packaging. In 2005, GNPD recorded only 4 new launches in this category, but by 2009 the figure increased to 2,598.

Building trust

A separate report published by Mintel last year had identified ethical sourcing and sustainability as a key consumer priority. As brands look to build trust, Mintel noted that “transparency is no longer a differentiator for brands; it’s a requirement…Ethics will play a large part in rebuilding brands.”

Mintel also notes that the trend is important across western markets. For example, its research has shown that nearly half of British adults view environmental and ethical issues as important, and 90 per cent of Americans buy green products at least sometimes.

“For businesses to rebuild brands through ethical efforts, they’ll need to connect with consumers, giving them an emotional reason to buy. As consumers demand more from the companies they do business with, they’ll want ethical responsibility to be a chief concern, creating more scrutiny on ethical claims than ever before,”​ it said.

The current GNPD analysis breaks down ethical products into: animal (2,426 new launches in Europe from 2005 to date), charity (830), environmentally friendly packaging (4417), environmentally friendly product (781), and human (539).

Related topics Processing & Packaging

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