Buying British a low priority

1 October 2001

‘Buying British a low priority’

By Adrienne Francis

BUYING British is not a priority for most consumers when it comes to purchasing food, suggests a Food Standards Agency survey.

Only three per cent of consumers listed country of origin as one of the most important factors that influence the food they buy, the poll reveals.

Instead, price is the main factor. Almost one in two food shoppers said price was most important when buying groceries, the survey found.

The Food Concerns Omnibus Survey, produced by COI Communications for the FSA, polled almost 1000 people across Great Britain.

It found that 46% of respondents rated price ahead of taste (18%), quality (17%), health issues (12%) and production methods (10%).

Country of origin was ranked 12th on the list of priorities.

Seventy-seven per cent of respondents said they were “very or fairly concerned” about the way food was produced.

Their most pressing concern was the way animals are treated and raised, followed by chemicals and preservatives and GM foods.

National Farmers Union marketing manager Helen Lo said the poll findings concurred with NFU research and campaigns.

“If the country of origin was important to consumers we would have used the Union Jack” to promote British food, she said.

“This is why we developed the red tractor British Farm Standard. What we have to focus on as an industry is that the flag means nothing.

“We have to meet all those concerns [taste, quality, health issues and production methods] reflected in the FSA poll as robust criteria.”

Ms Lo said the red tractor logo was about gaining consumer trust and helping consumers make the correct purchasing decision.

When asked about food safety, two thirds of respondents in the poll said they were very or fairly confident with current food safety measures.

More than half of the respondents said they had not stopped eating any foods because of food safety concerns.

These figures will be used by the Agency when it makes its submission to the Policy Commission on Food and Farming (PCFF).

The commission was set up by the government to look at the future of farming and food production after foot-and-mouth.

In the meantime, agency officials are encouraging consumers to give their views through a direct debate on its Talkfood website.

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