Shoppers won’t buy food just because it is British, although they are interested in purchasing local or regional produce, according to research carried out by the Institute of Grocery Distribution.

The research was presented by IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch at a conference about how to reconnect the public with food, farming and the countryside held in London on Thursday, 6 October.

The IGD had found that 51% of people say they don’t care where their food comes from and only one in five people are prepared to go out of their way to buy British if it means paying more, she said.

Yet 87% of respondents said they considered farming to be important to Britain and an important part of British heritage.

Other IGD research has shown that seven out of 10 people are interested in buying local and regional food, and that they are also interested in seasonal produce.

“This research shows that pure patriotism is not a good enough reason for people to buy British,” said Mrs Denney-Finch. “However, people are interested in buying local and regional foods and at a time when food is available all year round, they particularly want food that is in its right season.”

Government adviser Donald Curry said the research, which was funded to the tune of 50,000 by Asda, BASF, DEFRA, NFU, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose, helped to throw light on consumers’ attitudes, which was essential if the farming industry was to develop a better communications strategy.

“Over the past three years we have spent time putting initiatives in place to make sure that farmers can reconnect with their marketplace. What we haven’t spent time on is how we are going to reconnect with the public,” Sir Donald told Farmers Weekly.

“There is a very strong message in this research – and that is that the public have a strong commitment to local food. The public view of farming has also improved. People appreciate the countryside, but they don’t seem to recognise the link between food and the countryside,” he said.

isabel.davies@rbi.co.uk

For more from the conference on reconnecting with the public see this week’s Farmers Weekly