Shoppers Want Their Ethics on a Plate: Consumers Are Demanding to Know What Exactly Is in Their Food, Where It Came from, and How the Growers Are Treated. but as Retail Chains Embrace "Organic", "Free Range", "Locally Sourced" and "Fair Trade", Conflicts Are Emerging, Writes Jon Mainwaring

By Mainwaring, Jon | New Statesman (1996), October 8, 2007 | Go to article overview

Shoppers Want Their Ethics on a Plate: Consumers Are Demanding to Know What Exactly Is in Their Food, Where It Came from, and How the Growers Are Treated. but as Retail Chains Embrace "Organic", "Free Range", "Locally Sourced" and "Fair Trade", Conflicts Are Emerging, Writes Jon Mainwaring


Mainwaring, Jon, New Statesman (1996)


A few years ago, some friends and I would occasionally have Sunday lunch at the Crown, an organic pub in east London. We loved it: there was a good vibe, the staff were friendly and the meals tasty. That the food was good could simply have been down to the chef's skills rather than the ethical ingredients. Either way, it was pricey. But plenty of other people were just as keen on the pub; it was always packed.

So it was a real shock when, early last year, I learnt it had become a tapas restaurant. Given that the organic pub was so popular, and had received glowing write-ups in the food pages, why change the concept? Only when I had attended the launch of the Soil Association's Organic Market Report 2007 at the Duke of Cambridge in Islington (the UK's only certified organic pub) did I learn the full story. The Duke's proprietor, Geetie Singh, used to own the Crown but, she explained, she had had to sell it to buy out a business partner.

It is a shame that the new owners of the pub did not continue with the existing concept, because the public's appetite for organic food is growing ever larger, according to the Soil Association's latest report--a compilation of data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, organic farms, supermarkets and other grocers such as farm shops, as well as box-delivery and mail-order schemes.

The report found that sales of organic food and drink reached [pounds sterling]1.9bn in the UK last year, an increase of 22 per cent on 2005. On average, retail sales of organic products have grown by 27 per cent per annum over the past decade. This increased demand means that approximately 3.5 per cent of Britain's total agricultural land area is now organically managed. "In 2006, an average of 66 per cent of the organic primary produce sold by the multiple retailers [Tesco, Sainsbury's, Co-op, Morrisons and Asda] was sourced in the UK," it says. So what is driving this change?

In short, consumer demand--a mixture of concern for the environment, animal welfare and their own families' health. Supermarkets are acutely aware of these changes in buying patterns, and in many cases are trying to get ahead of the curve, polishing their green credentials with campaigns to cut down the use of plastic bags at the checkout, or, like Marks & Spencer, by selling their produce loose rather than in sealed plastic packages, part of its Plan A (tagline: "Because there is no Plan B") sustainability programme.

This demand is expected to rise still further as people who are now experimenting with organic food start to buy it regularly. More than half of respondents to a recent survey conducted by Mintel, a market research company, said they had purchased organic fruit and vegetables within the previous 12 months, while one in four consumers had bought organic meat or dairy products.

The environmental case for organic food rests on the Soil Association's stringent standards, which allow farmers to use fewer pesticides (just four, as opposed to 311 chemical pesticides routinely used in conventional farming) and fertilisers.

That animal welfare is also a factor is demonstrated in the shelves piled high with cartons full of eggs. Sales of free-range and organic eggs surpassed those from caged birds for the first time last year.

The role of health in buying decisions is reflected by Mintel research showing that households with children under the age of 15 buy a wider range of organic foods than those with no children. Sales of organic baby foods in Britain rose by 7 per cent in 2006, while sales of non-organic baby foods declined by 2 per cent.

But the perception that organic food is intrinsically better is not shared by some conventional farmers, nor by the UK Advertising Standards Authority, which has on several occasions, most recently in 2005, upheld claims against the association for overstating its case, particularly when it comes to health benefits. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Shoppers Want Their Ethics on a Plate: Consumers Are Demanding to Know What Exactly Is in Their Food, Where It Came from, and How the Growers Are Treated. but as Retail Chains Embrace "Organic", "Free Range", "Locally Sourced" and "Fair Trade", Conflicts Are Emerging, Writes Jon Mainwaring
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.