Credit crunch-hit consumers are more likely to pay for Fairtrade than environmentally friendly groceries, according to a survey seen exclusively by The Grocer.

Despite feeling the pinch, 92% of consumers still claimed to be willing to pay extra for a product perceived to be ethical and 76% said they would choose products benefiting people rather than the planet. Fairtrade was shoppers’ favoured type of ethical product, with 65% of shoppers prepared to pay an extra 10p or more, according to the report by market researchers Feel.

“Environmental shopping is obviously under pressure from the credit crunch, but people still care about social issues,” said Chris Arnold, founder of Feel. “In times of recession, people come together more – they may get more touched by environmental issues when they see the effect they have on people.”

A separate report by the Food Standards Agency also revealed environmental issues were less important than economic and social issues in the minds of shoppers. The survey of 2,068 shoppers showed that 66% thought economic issues such as price and quality were most important, 23% said their priority was social issues and just 10% first considered green issues.

Forum For The Future, an environmental charity that works with businesses, said it was important the environment was not forgotten. Ahead of a report to be released on Monday that highlights environmental products on offer, CEO Peter Madden said: “It is clear from our work with over 15 major supermarket and retail partners that more consumers are demanding greener products and services that are also good for communities.

“The challenge is making sure those choices are affordable. More supermarkets are now offering low-priced, sustainable options and making green choices such as low-energy lightbulbs more affordable. These will help customers save money when fuel bills are sky-high,” he added.