10 December 2009 | Isabel Palmer
Most international supermarket suppliers have increased or maintained investment in sustainability strategies during the recession, research has uncovered.
A study by food and grocery sector analyst IGD found 85 per cent of 130 retail vendors have committed funding to ethical projects in the past year.
Furthermore, 76 per cent of suppliers think new products and sustainable strategies, including plans to cut carbon emissions, recycle packaging and source Fairtrade goods, will play a greater role in trading relationships with retailers in the future.
IGD said this is driven by consumer demand for ethical and environmentally sourced produce. Despite economic conditions, it said shoppers have shown increasing concern over the welfare of supply chain workers producing food and groceries in developing countries.
Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of IGD, said: “Interest in social responsibility is still gaining momentum. The recession is prompting shoppers to seek out the best value but not by abandoning their values. That’s why it’s fast becoming a new competitive frontier for food retailers and brand owners.
“However, manufacturers are looking further to the future, increasing investment in sustainable solutions and anticipating that shopper interest in green products is still in its formative stages. It is set to be a major feature in the marketplace in the coming new decade.”
IGD also found that more than 40 per cent of vendors view increased global competition for supplies as one of the biggest threats to sustainability in the coming years.