Thu, 09 Jul 2015
UK - Consumers may say they desire food with provenance and quality but cost and convenience is driving choice, a study from Barclays bank has found.
Farmers have been warned that a gap exists between farmer belief that shoppers will pay a premium and the real motivation behind purchases.
In a survey of UK farmer attitudes and the behaviour of 2,000 consumers, Barclays noted that two thirds of shoppers are willing to support UK farmers by buying more UK products but 40 per cent care more about cost than origin.
Convenience drives 31 per cent to make purchasing decisions.
Cheaper prices came top of a UK consumer ‘shopping list’ of factors that would prompt shoppers to buy more UK produce.
Mark Suthern, National Head of Agriculture at Barclays, said only a small number of farmers identify low cost farm gate produce as part of their growth plan.
He called on the industry to think differently in meeting the challenge of producing quality food in a price conscious market.
"Our research shows that while support for UK produce exists, consumers are very conscious and when it comes to what drives choice of produce it is principally value and convenience."
In a discussion at this week's Livestock Event in Birmingham, Mr Suthern said 40 per cent of consumers shop for value ahead of origin and 31 per cent shop for convenience, not origin.
Agriculture specialist with Barclays and Lancashire pig farmer’s son, Oliver Mcentyre, said: “To think people will buy it just because you are producing is not practical.
He stressed farmers must know who their consumer is and know what the market demands are.
“There is a gap between niche products which producers think people want when the desire is convenience and price,” he said. “Red meats are often only for ‘high days and holidays’ but the Monday to Friday element needs addressing.”
“There are figures in the industry that tell us 1 in 4 consumers don’t look at the country of origin. Of those that do, how many put it back when they find it is from abroad?"
He said the National Farmers Union had been “very supportive” of Barclays research. “We are not criticising the industry it is simply a case of people looking after their purses first in times of downturn.
“If you’re intent is to buy British you have to look beyond price and convenience.”