As consumers shift their eating patterns to prepare more meals at home, they may also be checking the labels in stores to learn what products contain and how they are produced. Besides being concerned about food quality, consumers also want to purchase products that have been ethically produced. According to a recent Context Marketing study, nearly 2 out of 3 consumers believe ethically produced food is healthier and safer to eat.

Here are the top factors consumers use when determining if a food has been ethically produced:

  • Protects the environment
  • Meets high quality and safety standards
  • Treats farm animal humanely

Other factors used to measure ethically produced foods are similar to those found in the ‘eat local’ movement.  Consumers are looking at advertising and labels to determine whether a product  is trans-fat free, antibiotic-free, produced in the U.S., and free of artificial colors and preservatives.

The ethical production of food often translates into higher costs. Are consumers willing to pay? The survey reveals that shoppers are willing to pay more for ethical foods at the following rates:

  • 10%+ higher price: 12%
  • Between 1%-10% higher price: 57%
  • Not willing to pay more: 31%

It turns  out that younger consumers, especially those ages 20-34, are significantly more likely than other age groups to buy specific brands that coincide with their ethical food beliefs:

  • They believe claims about quality when food is ethically produced: 74%
  • They take time to learn about ethically produced brands: 63%
  • Stopped buying brands when company acts unethically: 51%
  • Loyal to ethically produced brands: 48%

As marketers bring more ethically produced foods to grocery stores, look for campaigns that target younger consumers who are willing, and often able, to pay a little extra.

[Source: Ethical Food. Context Marketing. March 2010. Web. 24 Mar. 2010]