New research from international food and grocery expert IGD has revealed that ethical food shopping is now mainstream in Europe. The information contained in IGD’s Ethical Shopping in Europe report also revealed that British consumers are ahead of their European counterparts.

Fairtrade, organic and local sourcing are all issues that are on the minds of tens of millions of European shoppers, with the British being the most likely to purchase ethically. 41% of British shoppers are incorporating more than one ethical factor into their buying habits.

This supports the predictions in the Key Note Market Report for bread and bakery products released in March 2008, that organic bread and bakery products would continue to be an area of growth.

“Until recently, ethical food shoppers were seen as niche,” said chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch at IGD’s Global Retailing conference. “Now as many as seven out of ten Europeans we surveyed buy ethically at least some of the time.”

However with the main barriers to a growth of ethical shopping being cited as price (54%) and availability (36%) the current credit crunch could slow down the rate of increase.

“Increasingly, shoppers want products that combine ethical advantages, rather than a single issue. The challenge is for companies to communicate and label clearly to help shoppers navigate through this wide range of issues,” said Denney-Finch.

“The winning companies of tomorrow will combine value with sustainability and develop new products and services at a competitive price for increasingly eco-conscious and socially-conscious consumers,” she added.