Consumers put quality first

THE QUALITY and taste of food is more important to consumers than low prices, according to a survey published by the Soil Association.

More than thousand people were asked what was important to them when buying food for a meal to serve to family or friends, and 95% said “the taste and quality of the food”.

Only 57% cent said low prices.

 The results were consistent across all social classes.

Even among the least well off quality beat price, as quality and taste were considered important by 94% and low prices by 65%.

Over two-thirds of all those questioned also rated avoiding artificial colouring or additives as important.

High animal welfare standards (71%), avoiding food grown with pesticides (65%), and farming methods that encourage wildlife (63%) were all rated higher than low prices. Support for all indicators of food quality was higher among women than men.

The survey was commissioned by Cultural Dynamics Strategy and Marketing and conducted by British Market Research Bureau on behalf of the Soil Association.

 “This new research shows that people do want high-quality, great-tasting food produced with care for the environment and animal welfare. These issues are important to far more people than low prices,” said Helen Browning, the SA’s food and farming director.

Lord Bach, the new junior DEFRA minister, visited the SA horticulture symposium at Ryton Organic Gardens near Coventry on Tuesday (Jun 7) and said that an “organic revolution” has taken place in recent years.

 “Over the last seven years there has been a massive increase in the area of land in the UK farmed organically. It has gone up thirteen-fold, from 51,000ha in 1997 to 690,000ha today,” Lord Bach said.

He acknowledged, however, that there are still challenges ahead in order to meet DEFRA’s target for UK-grown produce to constitute 70% of the British market for indigenous-type organic food.

But he said DEFRA would continue to support the organic sector both in terms of funds for research and production aid and various grants.

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