Ethical Food: A Research Report On The Ethical Claims That Matter Most To Food Shoppers
This in-depth study of adult consumers concerning “ethically produced” foods finds that “ethical” is a broad term for consumers and includes environmental protection, high quality and safety standards, and animal welfare. More than a third of respondents said that “cage-free” and “free-range” are important to them, while 21% and 14% said “vegetarian” and “vegan” are important to them, respectively.
Consumers define ethical foods as the attributes and perceived benefits regarding how a food is produced or processed, the environmental impacts the food has, and the safety and quality standards employed in production. According to the results of this study, ethical claims help consumers identify high quality, safer foods. Women and young adults are the most responsive to ethical claims.
In order to qualify as an “ethical food,” consumers felt the product must avoid harming the environment (93%), meet high safety standards (92%), use environmentally sustainable practices (91%), avoid inhumane treatment of animals (91%), and be produced to high-quality standards (91%). Among the animal welfare-related findings:
- 38% said “cage-free” is important or very important to them (16% important, 22% very important)
- 36% said “free-range” is important or very important to them (15% important, 21% very important)
- 21% said “vegetarian” is important or very important to them (9% important, 12% very important)
- 14% said “vegan” is important or very important to them (5% important, 9% very important)
Finally, the study also found the following on general ethical brand behavior:
- 69% are willing to pay more for food produced to higher ethical standards.
- 65% are more willing to believe claims about high quality when they know a food is ethically produced.
- 58% are more willing to take the time to learn about ethically produced food brands.
- 55% are more likely to recommend ethically produced food brands and products.
- 44% stopped buying a brand because they learned the company producing it was acting in a socially irresponsible or unethical way.
- 43% feel virtuous when purchasing ethically produced foods.
- 42% are more loyal to ethically produced food brands than other brands.