The NFU Mutual Food Fraud Report 2017 reveals that 63 per cent of people would be most likely to blame producers for cases of food fraud, compared with retailers, distributors and farmers
As Britain prepares to leave the European Union, the new research by the food and drink manufacturing insurer also reveals that 12 per cent of people have confidence in the European food chain and 7 per cent in the global chain - fewer than one in every ten people.
Almost 72 per cent believe there to be an issue with food fraud in the UK, with over a quarter also believing that they have personally experienced it. One third of consumers (33 per cent) are less trusting of products and retailers than they were five years ago, compared with only 9 per cent whose trust has increased, and a further 33 per cent believe that food crime is likely to increase in the future.
According to the report, processed foods are the product type that UK consumers are the least trusting of with 35 per cent of the vote, followed by red meat (18 per cent) and supplements (15 per cent).
Hearing about high profile cases of fraudulent food in the media, such as the horse meat scandal in 2013, is the most common cause of reduced confidence in nearly half of consumers (46 per cent).
Darren Seward, Food and Drink Manufacturing Specialist at NFU Mutual said: “There has never been a more important time for tackling food fraud and getting regulation right as we plan to leave the European Union, but Government proposals for where we will get our food from are already under tough scrutiny from industry and consumers alike with concerns over skilled labour and quality.
“Producers are under immense pressure to offset price rises caused by the weakened value of sterling and higher import costs, squeezing already tight budgets and resources and potentially cornering them into using cheaper global suppliers that may be more vulnerable to fraud.”
Darren continued, “Our research exposes the damaging effect that various influencers have had on consumer confidence over time. Much of the industry is addressing this by changing its supply strategy and supporting British producers - likely to be popular with a majority of consumers who want to support local businesses on home soil as shown in our research. How British producers will be supported and enabled to deliver the quantity of food required and improve consumer confidence remains to be seen.
“Our Food Fraud Report provides businesses with the research findings alongside advice from NFU Mutual experts and partners to help them combat fraud and appeal to customers through transparency and trust.”
The NFU Mutual Food Fraud report, which is designed to understand challenges facing businesses working across the field to fork supply chain, explores attitudes and influencers of trust, perceived blame, impact upon behaviour and awareness of food crime. The report includes viewpoints and advice from major industry bodies including the British Retail Consortium, Food and Drink Federation, British Hospitality Association and National Farmers Retail & Markets Association.
The research also found that over two thirds of people (70 per cent) regularly take measures to ensure their food is legitimate such as reading ingredients or the front label of a product, and 17 per cent avoid certain foods altogether that they believe could be susceptible to fraud. Almost four out of five respondents though (77 per cent) said that they would not know how to spot a counterfeit product.
Food assurance stamps have been found to have a very strong influence on purchase decisions, with 67 per cent of people using them to help choose the products they buy, and the Fairtrade stamp proving the most influential.