How do you like your eggs?

Ethical investing, fad or the future? As we are stitching together the final threads of our upcoming ESG report, we continue to unspool just what makes ethical, ESG or impact investing such a divisive topic. What does your choice of egg have to do with the complexities of marketing an ethical portfolio?

Early into our preliminary research into our Ethical Investing Report, we knew the topic of ethical investing was going to be highly divisive. Over the last few months, we have seen a plethora of ethical investing propositions go to market. We have also been receiving a steady stream of insight from consumers who have been telling us what ethical investing means to them. The responses have been broad, to say the least. Some see it as an oxymoron and others think it’s the future.

Most people know that intensive animal farming isn’t great for the planet, for the animals, or humans for that matter. Most people also are aware that aggressive battery farming is not much fun for the chicken and produces lower quality produce.

So we asked people to what extent they are prepared to pay for the worthier option.

Given a choice between a basic six-pack of eggs (70p), a free-range pack (£1.25) and an organic pack (£1.80), 12% of respondents said they would purchase organic, 56% free range and 21% basic.

 This is despite organic eggs comprising only around 2% of egg sales in 2017.*

Herein lies the issue with gauging ethical consumers choices, particularly with investing choices.

Even once the moral and ethical boundaries are established (in this case, organic eggs being perceived as the most ethical choice), the harsh realities of facts and figure are sometimes at odds with action and outcome. People intend to buy organic, but this intention isn’t being reflected in the purchase data. Given that price was the only stated variable, at which point is cost outweighing the desire to purchase ethically? Does the same apply to returns on an investment, to the cost of a portfolio, to our attitudes toward risk?

It’s possible that those answering the questions may not be responsible for their household’s egg buying duties, but this sentiment is echoed in the verbatims we have been receiving from consumers. These verbatims have to be read alongside the stats to get the full picture of what the demand for these products might be like.

Our free ESG Breakfast Briefing is taking place on October 18th in central London. We will be sharing snippets from the report, discussing consumer reactions to this topic and hosting Anne Ashworth, Assistant Editor of The Times to share her views on this space. Places are filling up fast, but you can register your place here

 

*United Kingdom Egg Statistics – Quarter 2, 2018, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2nd August 2018