Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The U-bend Recession & Organic Green Shoots

Recent news on UK economic indicators show that after a very brief flurry of back to growth as usual optimism, we are now settled on a long flat (steady state) type of curve. This means that those pundits pushing the W-curve, V-curve and L-curve alternatives missed another possibility now emerging; the u-bend recession!

On a much more positive note, after all the doom & gloom reporting on people abandoning ethical produce...
The UK retail giant has reported an upsurge in sales of premium, organic and Fairtrade foods According to the latest sales data from Tesco, UK consumers are beginning to return to premium and ethical food ranges, which the retailer says is “one of the clearest signals yet that consumers are feeling more confident about their own household finances”. Tesco revealed that its Finest, organics and Fairtrade ranges were all returning to growth in the UK after it reviewed its range and introduced better offers. Fairtrade produce has since increased by 15 per cent in the last year, while organic produce is up 52 per cent since November, the retailer said. Senior marketing manager Stephanie Stewart commented: “While it’s too early to say that we are seeing the green shoots of recovery from the recession, rising demand for our ethical and premium food brands are offering optimistic signs.”

My own reading of this is that rumours of the demise of principled consumerism were grossly overstated (and mostly due to panic price promoting of 'budget' ie cheap crap alternatives). Organic certainly seemed to drop about 20% both in stores and also boxed veg delivery in last year or two. Fairtrade actually grew about 100% in the last two years and with Cadbury and Starbucks coming on board will probably double again in the next 12 months. Anyway with the oh-my-god-the-banks-are-collapsing Shock Doctrine economic hype over (always perhaps only to justify a bailout that exceeded the repayment burden of WWII) people are perhaps just getting back on with life? A steady state economy of course is a sustainability holy grail, although as Herman Daly says that's not the same thing as a failed (or stalled) growth economy.

No comments: