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A Conscious Christmas Dinner: almost half of Brits ate more sustainably in 2016

49% of British Adults changed their diets due to environmental or animal welfare concerns

20-12-2016 |

Almost half of British adults are eating more ethically than last Christmas, according to new polling released today by Triodos Bank and Ethical Consumer. The research indicates a continuing trend towards ethical and sustainable food shopping habits as people hit the shops in earnest to stock up on supplies for a traditional Christmas dinner.

When surveyed by YouGov, British consumers indicated a strong preference in the last year for shifting their diet towards more environmentally- and ethically-friendly food:

  • 49 percent of respondents said they had changed their diet because of environmental or animal welfare concerns
  • 39 percent said they had bought free range meat or eggs
  • 13 percent said they had tried to eat fish instead of meat
  • 9 percent said they avoided red meat
  • 8 percent said they were vegetarian or vegan.

Bevis Watts, Managing Director of Triodos Bank UK said: "As many of us prepare to gather around the festive dining table it’s heartening to know that these celebrations can now include food and drink that both tastes good and is healthy for us and our environment. Every pound we spend on ethical and sustainable food and drink is a statement of our values and a vote for a more resilient and sustainable food system."

These consumer preferences showcase some of the motivations that are driving increasing trends towards ethical consumption. According to the soon to be released 2016 Ethical Consumer Market Report, increases in organic food and drink, sustainable fish, vegetarian products and Fairtrade wine markets point toward an ethical and more sustainable Christmas for many in the UK. In 2015, various ethical food markets saw strong increases:

  • Organic food and drink increased by 4.5 percent to £1.7 billion
  • The RSPA’s Freedom Food scheme increased in value by 28.6 percent to £1.5 billion
  • Vegetarian products increased by 6.3 percent to £710 million
  • Sustainable fish increased by 15.2 percent to £507 million

In a year where inflation was at zero percent, these trends show strong growth in the ethical food and drink sector. Furthermore, the overall UK food and drink market declined by 0.9 percent. This emphasises the significance of the growth of the ethical market and indicates a general trend towards more conscious consumer behaviour.

Additionally, although the value of free range eggs sold decreased by 3.6 percent to £609 million, this is due to a decrease in retail prices. The volume of free range eggs sold actually increased, resulting in an increase in market share.

Commenting specifically on the increase in organic food and drink sales Clare McDermott, Business Development Director of the Soil Association said: "Last year, 83% of households bought organic, and with renewed growth in the Organic Market, more and more people are looking to buy organic in order to avoid pesticides in their food and to avoid meat from animals routinely treated with antibiotics. The Soil Association is encouraging shoppers to swap one or two key Christmas dinner items like turkey, sprouts, carrots and potatoes to organic, which can make a surprisingly big impact. Organic food reduces exposure to potentially harmful pesticides and helps protect our vital wildlife."

The ethical consumer market report is an annual survey of the value of UK sales from a wide range of products considered to be more ethical choices in a range of consumer markets. It has been run every year since 1999.


Note to editors

The full 2016 Ethical Consumer Market Report will be released on December 27th 2016.

Market size data is from the forthcoming Ethical Consumer Markets Report.

About the research

2,163 people (18+) were interviewed online for Ethical Consumer by YouGov Plc. between 23 November and 24 November 2016. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults.

Media enquiries and interview requests to:

Simon Martin, Triodos Bank

0117 980 9770 / 07956 323546


Simon Birch, Ethical Consumer

07969 086136


About Triodos Bank

Triodos Bank is a global pioneer in sustainable banking using the power of finance to invest in projects that are good for people and the planet. Triodos uses its €12 billion in assets to create social, environmental and cultural value in a transparent and sustainable way.

With UK operations based in Bristol, Triodos Bank has branches in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Germany and an agency in France. Globally, Triodos Bank has microfinance projects in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, and is a founding member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a worldwide network of 36 banks seeking to transform finance into a vehicle of positive influence.

Triodos Bank N.V. has a full banking license and is registered with The Nederlandsche Bank N.V. (the Dutch central bank) and The Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets

About Ethical Consumer

Launched in 1989, Ethical Consumer is the UK's leading ethical and environmental magazine. In each issue Ethical Consumer examines the ethical and environmental record of the companies behind everyday products and services from bread to banks. For more information visit the Ethical Consumer website: www.ethicalconsumer.org

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