In Britain, Cheap Food Beats Organic


Kelly Rossiter

We ran a poll last week asking Do You Buy Local, Organic, Or Cheap?; it was pretty much a dead heat. But in Britain, a new study shows that people are "turning their backs on buying ethical in favour of cheaper shopping bills."

The head of the consultancy who did the study puts it bluntly in the Guardian:

"The recession has shaken off the moral veneer of consumers, and a more prudent shopper is emerging. Consumers are now turning away from ethical products, especially higher-priced green goods like organic in favour of a cold, hard bargain."


Kelly Rossiter

However Geoff Beattie of Cohn & Wolfe tells the Guardian that there is an alternative: the retailers can get smarter and sell the stuff at better prices.

"Whilst the savvy consumer is saving money where they can, shoppers will still aspire to stay true to their values."The challenge for retailers and manufacturers is to develop more affordable ethical and green goods to build consumer trust, but without hurting profit margins."

Another commenter suggests that people are switching from organics to local food. Sheila Dixon of BBC's food programme is quoted:

"This interesting research shows that after decades of the one-stop weekly visit to the supermarket, people are learning to shop again: getting their food from a mix of sources. "They still want quality but are sharpening their skills on how you get it. The research also shows how deep the commitment now is in Britain to local food and that provides a real challenge to the organic movement."

The Guardian

Alas, this is probably wishful thinking. As we wrote last year in U.S. Consumers "Get the Cheap Stuff."

We had a faint hope that the rise in food prices might lead people to buy more carefully, perhaps cook more from scratch instead of buying prepared food, or even cut back on meat and eat more vegetables. No such luck; according to the IHT, Americans are just buying more crap, because the cheap calories come from the most processed, corn-based foods.

More on Organic vs Local:
Organic vs Local? Who Cares. Neither is Sustainable.
There's No Such Thing as Local vs. Organic Food

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