New research shows consumers want to 'Buy British' food
PETER Kendall has kicked off the NFU’s 2013 conference with a message to Tesco and the UK’s other big retailers that consumers want to ‘Buy British’ in the wake of the horse meat scandal.
Mr Kendall is due to open the two-day conference in Birmingham at 10.15am. He will be immediately followed on the main platform by Defra Secretary Owen Paterson.
But the most eagerly anticipated appearance is that of Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke, who will appear in front of more than 1,000 farmers on Wednesday afternoon, with his company still seeking to rebuild its reputation following its leading part in the horse meat controversy.
The NFU has published consumer research this morning showing more than 86 per cent of shoppers are ‘as likely or more likely to want to buy more traceable food that has been produced on British farms’ since the horse meat scandal broke.
A further 78 per cent ‘agree or strongly agree that supermarkets should sell more food from British farms’, according to a One Poll survey commissioned by the NFU.
In a thinly veiled message to Mr Clarke ahead of his conference appearance, Mr Kendall said he believed shorter and more traceable supply chains would help to alleviate the problems of recent weeks.
“Farmers have been furious about what has happened,” he said. “They have spent many years working to ensure the British supply chain is fully traceable from farm to pack and have upheld strong principles which are embodied in assurance schemes like Red Tractor. For me this is fundamental for consumer confidence.”
Mr Clarke told the BBC ahead of his appearance his supermarket would work more closely with British farmers in response to the horsemeat scandal.
He said: “The reason I’m here today talking to the NFU is to signal a change, a change which means we’ll have the most stringent testing regime, a change that means we’ll bring production closer to home, and a change that means we’ll have more partnerships with farmers here in the UK.”
Mr Kendall said the NFU research demonstrated the strong demand for British-farmed products and urged retailers, processors and food service companies to embrace their responsibility to ensure clear country of origin labelling.
“Fifty-one per cent told us they find the information on food origin either confusing or very confusing. This has to change,” Mr Kendall said, adding that more needs to be done to make labelling clearer.
He urged consumers to be ‘more demanding’ in the purchases they make.
“Ask your retailers where the food they are selling comes from and look out for the Red Tractor logo carrying the Union flag to know the food you are buying is produced to good standards and traceable from farm to pack,” he said.
Mr Kendall called for retailers to work on re-building consumer trust and improving transparency and partnership with farmers and the rest of the supply chain.
“What we see currently in some sectors is real short-termism. The margin distribution in the supply chain needs more transparency and joined-up thinking if we are to tackle the dual challenges of volatility and environmental pressures,” he said.
NFU conference 2013
- The two-day NFU conference will take place at the ICC, in Birmingham, on Wednesday and Thursday.
- Follow it on our Farmers Guardian | NFU Conference page, where we will be posting live updates and stories and videos from the event.
- Follow our journalists at the conference on Twitter using the #nfu13 hastag.