Irish Consumers Increasing Looking For Ethical Labels

Ethical credentials a key concern for Irish customers

A new study by Ireland’s agriculture and food development authority has discovered a growing appetite amongst Irish consumers for food with ethical labels.

Irish consumers are displaying a growing appetite for ethically-produced meat and are happy to pay higher prices for goods displaying labels such as free-range or organic. These are the findings of a survey carried out by Teagasc, Ireland’s agriculture and food development authority.

Looking at a sample of 251 people from across the Republic of Ireland, researchers from Teagasc questioned participants about their beliefs, behaviours and perceptions when buying and eating meat, and examined how that influences their purchasing decisions.

Ethical production practices

The study had a particular focus on the relationship between food quality and four different farm-level production practices: organic farming, free-range farming, high animal welfare standards and animals that are free from hormone or antibiotic treatment. And, far from being niche concerns, the study revealed that these ethical issues have become key priorities for a growing number of people.

According to Dr Áine Regan, lead author of the study and a member of Teagasc’s department of agri-food business and spatial analysis, around a third of the people interviewed placed a high priority on the link between meat quality and these four production practices. And this perception of quality also translates into a willingness to pay higher prices. People are not just approaching these issues from a ‘concerned citizen’ perspective; rather, these ethical and sustainable credentials are viewed as attractive product attributes in their own right, and are increasingly competing with more traditional attributes such as health, safety and sensory perception.

Dr Regan explained the implications of these findings: “As this study shows, the consumer’s definition of ‘quality’ is constantly being re-evaluated and redefined. This has important implications for Quality Assurance schemes and highlights the need for continuous development of these schemes to align with consumers’ needs and values. Furthermore, as new attributes become increasingly prioritised by the consumer, it may become apparent that new forms of engagement and communication will be needed.”

Wider trend

While this study focused exclusively on the Republic of Ireland, the results are indicative of a wider trend. Consumers in the UK are also increasingly taking an interest in the ethical credentials of the products they buy and are demanding greater clarity and transparency from brands and retailers.

However, despite this desire to make ethical purchasing decisions, many consumers find themselves confused and overwhelmed by the vast array of environmental and ethical schemes out there, and frustrated at the lack of clear and readily accessible information. In fact, seven out of ten UK consumers said that they would be more likely to choose ethical and sustainable products if labels were clearer and more meaningful.

Labelling opportunities

This growing appetite for ethical labels offers a clear marketing opportunity for producers, brands and retailers. Product labels play a key role in influencing consumer purchasing decisions and, if you view yourself as a responsible company, a well-designed label can really help you to shout about your achievements and target ethically minded customers.

If your product needs a packaging redesign, take a look at our bespoke label printing service. With assistance at all stages of the design and printing process we can help you create clear, informative labels that harness this trend and make a feature of your ethical credentials, enabling you to attract the right customers and stand out in a sea of competitors.