Economic and Social Research Council
Consumers care about fair rewards for farmers
More consumers are concerned that farmers are paid fairly than that the cost of their food is low, says a study of how consumers perceive the UK's increasingly complex food supply chain.
Based on the 2015 British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey, researchers explored what matters to people when buying food and their levels of trust in the UK’s food supply chain.
Findings suggest that in the absence of a food scare or other trigger the food supply chain is not a high priority for those surveyed. Over 80% of respondents said that when choosing food to buy, it's the healthiness of the food which matters to them. Knowing where food comes from or that it is grown locally is rated as less important.
Trust emerged as vital in enabling people to make food purchase decisions, and more people have high levels of confidence in food produced in Britain compared with imported food. Farmers (68%) and food inspectors (58%) are widely trusted to make sure that food is safe to eat.
Only one third of respondents trusted supermarkets, food manufacturers and the government to do this. And, in the event of a food scare, only 10% of those surveyed would trust the government most to tell the truth, while 40% said they would trust health professionals the most, followed by scientists (30%) who were seen as having the public's interest at heart.
Overall, however, the research highlights significant variations in the factors that matter when buying food and people's trust in the UK food supply chain. "Clearly, we should not assume a homogeneity in the public's attitudes in relation to food and the food supply system," Dr Alizon Draper concludes.
This article was published in the Autumn 2017 issue of the Society Now magazine.
- Contact: Dr Alizon Draper, University of Westminster
- Understanding the challenges of the food system (project website, NatCen)
- Public perceptions of the UK food system: public understanding and engagement, and the impact of crises and scares (Gateway to Research)
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