THE MAIN priority for consumers when buying meat or poultry is provenance not price.
More than half of consumers (59%) prefer to buy UK-sourced meat and poultry compared to imported meat.
Meanwhile, price is the main consideration for just 39% of consumers.
The results come in a new report by YouGov SixthSense on consumer attitudes towards food provenance.
The report also found that one in three consumers (31%) would be more inclined to eat at a restaurant or pub that has locally sourced food on its menu, with 27% saying locally sourced food on a menu influences their meal choices.
The Farming Minister, Jim Paice, recently called for more country of origin labeling on menus. He suggested that caterers were not taking up the challenge, but his Department could provide little evidence that the industry was not making progress.
The foodservice industry supports a move towards more provenance labeling, but there are unique challenges for businesses.
John Dyson, food and technical affairs adviser at the British Hospitality Association (BHA), said recently that many caterers are already very pleased to state the origin of some of the products on their menus, such as meat or fish, but suppliers and their source of supply can change suddenly for reasons of availability, cost, quality or other factors. Restaurants with standard printed menus will have great difficulty in allowing for such sudden changes.
Awareness of the source of products among consumers seems relatively high with a quarter (25%) happy to pay more for locally sourced products, with a 34% of consumers buying meat based on its national origin.
When it comes to attitudes to locally sourced food in general, 79% believe locally sourced foods support the local economy, 50% believe it is better quality because it has not travelled as far.
YouGov consumer consulting director Rob Cushen said the research clearly shows that there is demand for locally, regionally and UK-produced foods.
The question is to what extent food and drink manufacturers are successfully promoting the provenance of their ranges through advertising and packaging. In order to capture this opportunity fully, food and drink companies need to review and research their current and future packaging and test whether the right messages are being picked up by consumers.