Choosing the green option has long been thought of as the preserve of the affluent – but a profound shift is now underway, according to new research from the National Consumer Council (NCC).
NCC’s findings indicate that sustainability is fast becoming a mass-market phenomenon – with even lower-end retailers embracing a greener approach.
Sainsbury’s now heads NCC’s annual league table alongside M&S and Waitrose – all were given a B rating. Asda and Tesco made progress over the past year – moving from a D to a C.
Perhaps most significant of all in terms of long-term trends, Morrisons and Somerfield have improved their scores from an E to a D.
The extension of the sustainability agenda to all parts of the market is symbolised by NCC’s green food product of the year – Asda’s ‘Smart Price’ value fish fingers.
Made from sustainably sourced Pollock, these have prominent information about their Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification on the packaging.
The same store also now offers Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified toilet paper as its main own-brand product.
Further signs of a shift in the market include Morrisons and Tesco selling energy efficient light bulbs at low prices, while Asda, the Co-op and Somerfield have greatly increased the proportion of in-season vegetables sourced from the UK.
Chair of the NCC, Larry Whitty, said, “The food we eat is responsible for one-third of our impact on climate change – so it’s vital that the big supermarkets make green shopping much easier.
“NCC’s research has spotted important signs of progress right across the market, with all stores now beginning to embrace sustainability. But much remains to be done if supermarkets are to become truly green grocers.”
NCC’s survey found that no retailer has yet risen to the challenge of being a truly green business, with even the top performers letting themselves down by failing to implement basic measures in-store.
Not one supermarket got top marks for the proportion of UK in-season produce on sale, and NCC found wildly varying performance in terms of unnecessary packaging and plastic bags.
The cheapest energy-efficient lightbulbs in Sainsbury’s and the Co-op were both more than 20 times the price of the more traditional option. One Waitrose store undermined the message about seasonal food with a display tracking the plum season right around the world.
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