Public will pay more for food to back farmers, survey says

Consumers back British farming and will pay more if farmers receive a fair price for their produce
Consumers back British farming and will pay more if farmers receive a fair price for their produce

The public are prepared to invest in high-quality food in order to ensure British farmers receive a fairer price, a thinktank's survey shows.

Consumers are almost unanimous in their desire to stand behind the industry according to a recent survey conducted by the Rural Policy Group.

The rural thinktank's research shows that nearly all (99%) of the consumers said it was important for farmers to receive a fair price for their produce.

Recognising that 42% of farms will be loss making by 2024 and that government seems to favour keeping food prices low with trade deals that allow cheaper imports, 93% of consumers are prepared to pay more for their food in order to ensure farmers are fairly rewarded for their produce.

The same number of respondents (93%) also think that supermarkets should do more to protect local farming and maintain good food standards.

A number of key consumer trends emerged during the pandemic, including the resurgence of localness, concern about personal safety and the increased desire for sustainability.

The Rural Policy Group says that because of this, a more health conscious and locally focused consumer is prepared to invest in high-quality British food.

Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, chair of the group, said: “We are at the dawn of a new food era where people re-engage with food production and give more weight to provenance, ethical concerns and nutritional value rather than price.”

In the survey, 99% of respondents agreed that future generations will not thank the government if the UK accepted cheap food imports with lower quality production and welfare standards.

Instead, the overwhelming majority (98%) of consumers said they stand behind the British farming industry.

However, Sarah Calcutt, vice chair of the Rural Policy Group, said farming appeared to be the 'sacrificial lamb' in trade and immigration negotiations.

"Government policy is making farming less financially viable, at a time when financial stability is needed to underpin progress towards the sustainable development goals the government has committed to.

"As one food industry commentator said during the launch of the Green Futures Report, farmers can’t go green while they are in the red.

"We have all the resources we need to build a better, thriving rural economy that puts provenance and food safety at its core and ultimately protects the health of the population for years to come.”