Major Food Miles Campaign Highlights Lack of Consumer Knowledge Concerning UK Food Production

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A major food miles campaign launched by agricultural news magazine Farmers Weekly has shown that there is a lack of knowledge amongst UK consumers about food production.

We welcome the results of the survey which are a ringing endorsement for local and organic food producers. People want local, preferably organic, rather than imported food because they believe it tastes better and that it’s better for them. We call on supermarkets especially, and retailers generally, to respond to this burgeoning demand for more local and organic produce.

According to the food miles research carried out by Farmers Weekly, 19% of people believe oranges are grown in the UK. 82% of consumers would be more likely to buy locally produced food in the supermarket it if was clearly labelled as such.

Farmers Weekly is launching a nationwide food miles campaign, aimed at educating consumers to make informed food purchasing decisions. It will also encourage supermarkets to cut down on food miles by stocking and clearly labelling more locally produced food.

An exclusive food miles survey in Farmers Weekly supported by Triodos Bank - specialists in sustainable agriculture finance - revealed that consumers want to buy locally produced food, thereby reducing food miles, but want supermarkets to do more to promote and stock it.

Furthermore, the research suggests that there is a lack of understanding about where food comes from and when it is produced. Interestingly, there also appears to be a generational gap, with younger people having less of a handle of when food is in season, and what fruit and vegetables grow when in the UK

The food miles campaign has considerable backing from UK celebrities and organisations including:

•Ross Burden, celebrity TV chef (regular on Ready Steady Cook)

•Rick Stein, celebrity TV chef

•Tom Parker-Bowles (food columnist of Tatler & Mail on Sunday)

•And a range of organisations including Triodos Bank, the National Farming Union, Friends of the Earth, FARMA, RSPB, Country Land and Business Association, Royal Agricultural Society of England

Key food miles facts:

*Nearly half of those surveyed admitted that they don’t know where the food they buy is produced

*19% of people thought oranges could be grown naturally in the UK. What’s more, 10% thought pineapples could

*Only 21% of 16-24 year olds thought apples were picked in the autumn, compared with 64% of over 65-year olds

*82% of consumers would be more likely to buy locally produced food in the supermarket it if was clearly labelled as such

*Over a third of consumers (the highest proportion) would prefer to buy locally produced food from supermarkets

*85% of people think it’s important for restaurants/pubs and schools to buy locally produced food

*Just under half (49%) of consumers are concerned that more than one third of food consumed in the UK is produced abroad

*More than half of people would buy less imported food if they were aware of the distance it travelled

*Almost all (96%) of people want to support local producers/farmers

*77% think local food tastes better

Julian Gairdner, Food Miles campaign editor said: “Although supermarkets are making some small steps in the right direction, there’s still so much more that must be done to encourage people to buy more local food, cut down on food miles, and support the UK farming industry. Our exclusive survey shows that there’s a strong appetite among consumers for a more sustainable approach to food production. 80,000 campaign car stickers will be sent out with this Friday’s Farmers Weekly to spread the food miles message. Education is still key!”

Ian Price, Organic Manager at Triodos Bank added: “We welcome the results of the survey which are a ringing endorsement for local and organic food producers. People want local, preferably organic, rather than imported food because they believe it tastes better and that it’s better for them. We call on supermarkets especially, and retailers generally, to respond to this burgeoning demand for more local and organic produce.”

Farmers Weekly

Farmers Weekly is the UK’s leading magazine and website for the whole of the farming industry. Packed with agricultural news, views and practical information, Farmers Weekly helps producers grow their businesses and compete effectively in the marketplace. For buying and selling, visit the FWMarketplace, the UK’s biggest agricultural marketplace for items such as used farm machinery. Farmers Weekly magazine reaches 200,000 people a week and the website has 140,000 visits a month

The Campaign and Research

Farmers Weekly is running the ‘Food Miles’ campaign because transporting lots of food from all corners of the world is bad for the environment, bad for freshness, bad for food security and bad for traceability.

The campaign is aimed at consumers, whether they’re the adults doing the buying or the teenage children who are an increasingly important influence on buying decisions.

The research surveyed 1,000 UK consumers and took place in April 2006.

Triodos Bank

Triodos Bank only finances enterprises that benefit people or the environment – it has a £244 million balance sheet in the UK and over 20,000 personal and business customers. It currently lends almost £20 million to organic farmers, processors and retailers.

Triodos is the only commercial bank with a dedicated organic lending specialist, and runs a unique ‘organic saver’ account, in partnership with the Soil Association.

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Ciaran Norris
RBI
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