Quick and good value rule shoppers’ food decisions

YORKSHIRE shoppers are willing to pay a premium for food produced in the UK but their supermarket decisions are still ruled on the whole by value and convenience, according to the findings of a new survey by Barclays bank.

Shoppers supermarket decisions are still ruled by value. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Research by the bank’s agricultural arm suggests the average local consumer is willing to pay 17 per cent more for food produce at home over imported equivalents. Yet only a quarter of Yorkshire folk (19 per cent) said they always checked the label to establish the country of origin of their food.

The study, which examines the attitudes of UK farmers and over 2,000 consumers, warns a gap exists between what many farmers are producing in response to consumer aspirations, and what in reality motivates their purchases.

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Demographic changes are expected to grow the market for UK farmed produce by £8.4billion by 2020, Barclays said, and based on the 17 per cent price premium, there could be an additional £4.7bn economic growth prospect in the next five years - with the greatest increase forecast in the dairy sector, followed by poultry and beef.

The research reveals the top factors that would encourage UK consumers to buy more UK farmed produce - and price tops the list for four in every five shoppers.

Beyond price, consumer interest in provenance is strong, with 79 per cent of shoppers saying better taste or flavour would encourage them to buy UK produce, although only a third of farmers believe this is a major factor in consumer decisions.

John Pinches, head of agriculture at Barclays in Yorkshire, said: “Our research shows that while support for UK produce exists, Yorkshire consumers are very cost conscious and when it comes to what drives choice of produce, it is principally value and convenience. 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 economy.”

Nationally the research also found that women demonstrate more conscientious buying behaviour than men. They are more likely to be encouraged by product qualities across a number of attributes such as animal welfare, traceability and support for UK farmers.

Overall, when it comes to the main factors influencing general purchasing decisions, price and convenience are the principle triggers, with just under two in five (39 per cent) UK adults saying they shop for value over origin, followed by 31 per cent shopping for convenience over origin.

Mr Pinches said: “The UK has a global reputation for high-quality, high welfare farmed produce at competitive prices, and the evidence shows that consumers value the access they have to such domestically produced food, but must look beyond just price and convenience to support the industry.

“These findings will also help UK farmers to realise the opportunities and challenges around production of quality produce in a price conscious market. Perhaps now is the time for the industry to think differently to ensure that UK farming remains competitive for future growth.”