Ethical shopping is no longer just a niche segment of the market but there is still extensive room for growth, according to exclusive new research for the Fairtrade Foundation.

The report by OC&C Strategy Consultants, in conjunction with charity funding organisation Impetus, surveyed 503 consumers and found that the Fairtrade Foundation ranked highest for recognition of ethical marks. Some 54% stated they had 'seen the brand a lot' compared with 18% for the Red Tractor scheme and 13% for the Soil Association.

However, although the majority of respondents were aware of Fairtrade coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas and cocoa, the research highlighted the huge scope for growth for other products across all categories.

Only 22% knew Fairtrade vegetables were available, 28% knew of fruit juice, 33% knew of sugar, 11% for pasta, 32% for biscuits, 25% for alcohol and 8% for ice cream.

Of those that were unaware of Fairtrade vegetables, 55% of people said they would be interesting in buying them.

There was still some work to do translating awareness into behaviour, suggested the report. While 96% of people had heard of the mark and 70% had bought a product at some time, only 27% of people bought more than one product regularly.

Waitrose and M&S attracted the most ethical shoppers with 45% and 44% of respondents respectively stating they had shopped "ethically" at those stores in the past three months.

There has also been a shift of behaviour in more mainstream retailers with 30%-35% saying they had bought ethical products in the Co-op, Sainsbury's, Asda, Lidl, Tesco, Aldi and Morrisons during the same period.