Lucy Nott: ‘Consumer trust will be hard to regain’

Two steps forward, one step back. The fraudulent meat scandal that has been revealed by Farmers Weekly over the past few weeks has felt like a huge slap in the face for British farmers.

Consumer trust is invaluable – easy to lose and extremely hard to regain.

See also: Lucy Nott – we’re optimistic about the SFI

About the author

Lucy Nott
Farmlife opinion writer
Lucy lives with her husband, a sixth-generation farmer, and their two children on a 100ha (250 acre) arable farm in Worcestershire. On the farm they have a passion for regenerative agriculture and aspire to transition to a regenerative system. They are also part of the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot and are trialling lots of new things on the farm. They hosted their first LEAF Open Farm Sunday (LOFS) this year and Lucy is now the LOFS Ambassador for the West Midlands.
Read more articles by Lucy Nott

With the increased promotion of vegetarian and vegan diets and the cost-of-living crisis, the consumption of meat in the UK is already on the decline.

For those who were already eating less meat, reading about fraudulent meat could be enough to stop them from eating it altogether.

For farmers, it is an unwelcome reminder of how little we (and our sustainably produced, high-welfare meat) are valued in the supply chain – although I’m sure many farmers are reminded of this on a daily basis.

It is incredibly frustrating that the Union Jack on the front of food packaging has had its credibility questioned.

The flag is a simple identifier for mindful consumers – but how are shoppers supposed to make informed decisions on their food choices if they can’t trust the labelling?

Serious damage has been done and, unfortunately, British agriculture is going to have to pick up the pieces.

There are always opportunities, however, and consumers may recognise that it is the “middleman” who has deceived consumers and exploited hard-working British farmers.

The best way for shoppers to safeguard themselves is to buy direct from farms and local producers.

Shortening the supply chain and getting closer to the provenance of their food. This is what we need to encourage.

If we can’t stop the trend of eating less meat, then we need to encourage our fellow British citizens to buy higher quality and sustainably produced local meat.

I may be an arable farmer, but I will get on my soapbox about this until the grass-fed cows come home.

Consumers may have been deceived and farmers left out of pocket, but now is the time to stay consistent with our message of buying British and buying local.

Let’s start spinning the positive PR wheel – we believe in what we do, and so should British consumers.

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