Farm production at odds with consumer demand

New research from Barclays has shown a disconnect between what consumers want and what British farmers are producing.

Two-thirds (66%) of consumers would buy British-sourced produce in order to support UK farmers, according to the research. Additionally, some shoppers would be willing to pay 17% premium on average for British produce, stating that locally produced food is of better quality.

However, despite buyers favouring British-sourced produce over exported goods, the study shows that a main driving force behind what customers buy is the value. Research shows that two in five (40%) of UK adults select value over origin, yet only 5% of farmers believe there is business opportunity in producing low value products. Nearly a quarter of customers (24%) claim that they dont check the country of origin at all.

Mark Suthern, head of agriculture at Barclays believes it may be time for the industry to start thinking differently. Our research shows that while support for UK produce exists, consumers are very cost conscious and when it comes to what drives choice of produce it is principally value and convenience.

The findings suggest the market for higher cost or niche produce is small, yet only a small number of farmers identify farm gate produce of lower cost as part of their growth plan. This gap presents an opportunity for a quick and low cost producer mentality needed for future growth and the challenge will be production of quality produce in a pride conscious market.

When asked what would make them buy more local produce, 80% stated cheaper products came top of the poll. Contrasting this, only 39% of farmers recognised price in consumer purchasing decisions.

Furthermore, 79% of consumers claim better taste of flavour would make them consume more UK produce, whilst just 33% of farmers believe this would influence buying habits.

Following the on-going difficulties that UK agriculture has experienced over the last few years, it has never been a more important time to support the growth of a vital sector of the UK economy, Suthern continued.

The UK has a global reputation for high-quality, high welfare farmed produce at competitive prices, and the evidence shows that UK consumers value the access they have to such domestically produced food, but must look beyond just price and convenience to support the industry. Continued improvements in labelling and traceability can help consumers make the choice in selecting UK produce.

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