Nearly two-thirds of consumers believe farmers are underpaid and the majority would pay more for food if they knew producers received fairer prices, according to research.
A survey by research consultancy GlobeScan found 63% of those surveyed believe UK farmers are not paid enough for their produce, while 64% believe producers in developing countries do not get a fair price.
More than half – 58% – said they were willing to pay more for food produced by people who were paid fairly and whose human rights were respected.
In addition, 53% said they would pay for food that does not damage the environment in the long-term.
Crucially for UK farmers, when asked to rank how strongly they felt about certain aspects of food production, respondents ranked paying a fair price to British farmers higher than issues such as better animal welfare or paying more to farmers from developing countries.
Support for paying a fairer price for food was highest among women, younger shoppers (aged 18-34) and people from higher-income households.
Overall, 39% of consumers said they would like to see the government prioritise British farmers.
However, the survey, which was carried out online and included more than 1,000 UK consumers, also found there was uncertainty about the consequences of low food prices.
Although 43% said that rock-bottom food prices today could mean some products could become less available or more expensive in the future, more than half said they did not agree with this premise or were unsure about the connection.
However, three-quarters of respondents said steps had to be taken to ensure future generations have enough food.
This research shows very clearly that British consumers expect businesses and government to take action to ensure the fairness and long-term sustainability of food production, both here at home and in developing countries Abbie Curtis, GlobeScan
Nine out of 10 people said there was at least some room for improvement from government, food companies and retailers when it came to ensuring food was produced in a sustainable and fair way.
The research found 92% of shoppers said food companies should ensure food production was fair and sustainable, while 85% said they expected the government to take responsibility for this.
Abbie Curtis, senior project manager at GlobeScan said: “This research shows very clearly that British consumers expect businesses and government to take action to ensure the fairness and long-term sustainability of food production, both here at home and in developing countries.
“It is important for retailers and food companies, alongside government, to respond to this and take appropriate steps towards meeting these expectations.”