Clearer food labelling could save falling sales in premium meat products, The Grocer’s Michael Barker told delegates at Pig and Poultry Live 2009.

He said while many consumers were “parking their principles” when it came to buying more ethical food during these tough financial times, if messages were clear then sales may be maintained.

“Take Fair Trade as an example. Consumers know this is helping third world countries and sales haven’t fallen since the start of the recession. But compared to organic, where many consumers are unclear about what it means, sales are suffering. We need clear strong messages and points of difference consumers understand,” he said.

Rearing method was also something that needed to be clearer, said Dalehead Foods’ Andrew Saunders. “Consumers are confused about different production systems, be it free-range, outdoor-bred or outdoor-reared. For someone not knowing anything about the industry, it is confusing.”

But consumers were taking for granted food safety and basic levels of animal welfare, said Mr Barker. “Britishness is a brand and people want to buy it, but the question remains will the consumer pay for it, that’s why we need to label it and market it better.”