By Daniel Hunter

Since the onset of the economic downturn five years ago, the value of ethical markets from Fairtrade products and green energy to free-range and sustainable food has grown from £35.5bn to £47.2bn, according to a report produced by the Co-operative Bank.

The annual ethical consumer markets report shows that sales in the sector have grown from £13.5bn in 1999.

“In an age where we are sceptical about the intentions and actions of Government, media, role models and banks, we see that the core of the British public want to feel good and secure in their purchasing habits," Duncan Parker, Managing Director of Ethical Goods said.

"This report is exciting as it shows much of what we believe to be true about the current market. For the enlightened business, this will act as a comfort to their mission of blending profit, people and planet appropriately.”

As well as consumer desire for more ethical products to be available on the shelves, we see B2B actions increasingly impacting the market. Major businesses in multi sectors are insisting that to win the contract to supply them with products, price is not always king.

Quality and sustainable products that add value to the purchaser’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) claims are increasingly critical in the scorecard appraisal. Externally audited and accredited CSR reports are not only desired but expected to be standard fare.

It would seem that if 2012 was the year of CSR disasters, the successful businesses of 2013 will be those who understand their social responsibility.

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