Ethical foods have gained market share in the UK but still only take up 5% of the average shopping basket, a report said.

Ethical consumerism as a whole in the UK exceeded the sales of off-trade alcohol and cigarettes last year, reported the Co-operative Bank’s annual Ethical Consumerism Report.
In 2005, UK ethical consumerism was worth GBP29.3bn (US$38.59bn), overtaking the retail market for tobacco and alcohol, of GBP28.0bn, for the first time.

Organic products, Fairtrade goods and free-range eggs sales were up 18% during 2005, from GBP4.6bn to GBP5.4bn.

Green home expenditure, eco-travel and transport costs, and personal products were also included in the ethical consumerism bracket though, with monies in ethical finance stood at GBP11.6bn, up from GBP10.6bn last year.

Executive director of business management Craig Shannon said: ”The fact that the value of ethical consumerism is now higher than the retail figures for cigarettes and beers is a milestone. However, total ethical spending is spread over a wide range of products and services, and in very few markets has it become the market norm. Overall, spend on ethical foods still only accounts for 5% of the typical shopping basket.

“Where the ethical or eco-choice has become the market leader, for example in sales of A-rated energy fridges, which account for some 60% of the market, this has been underpinned by an EU labelling scheme, inefficient products being removed from sale and the support of well targeted subsidies.”