Recession’s impact on food shoppers

PRICE, quality and taste - in that order - remain the priorities for food shoppers.

Some 92 per cent said they had noticed food price increases in the last 12 months. But other concerns have taken more of a back seat in recession-hit Britain, according to Which? chief policy adviser Sue Davies.

She told the Waitrose Farming Conference last week the latest Which? survey of 2,000-plus consumers and workshop sessions revealed price was still a high priority for even higher income consumers.

Not surprisingly, the shift was that one-quarter of people were more likely to buy from the discounters and look for value brands at the expense of premium supermarkets and organic product offerings.

Animal welfare remained an issue, said Ms Davies. While 17 per cent believed it less important at present, 22 per cent said it was more important. Consumer concerns over GM, too, have not gone away. More than half were

concerned about BSE, genetic modification and cloning - but even so, these were not as high on the agenda as quality and freshness of food.

There was an overall high level of confidence in food safety (92 per cent) when bought at a supermarket. The research also revealed continuing strong support for ‘local’, especially where meat and dairy products were concerned (towards three-quarters of respondents), and to a lesser, though still very significant degree, for vegetables and fruit.

Labelling

Consumer awareness of labelling was interesting - fairtrade was the most recognised, with 87 per cent having been aware of the label.

There was a 62 per cent of awareness of ‘organic’ (Soil Association, for example) but when asked about Red Tractor, awareness fell to less than half (47 per cent), which Ms Davies said was very low considering the length of time it had been in existence. Freedom Food commanded 26 per cent awareness.

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