18 November 2019, 17:08 PM
  • 84% of UK consumers believe that the Government should ensure all imported food matches British food in terms of high environmental and animal welfare standards, according to research produced by ComRed on behalf of BGAJ (British Guild of Agricultural Journalists)
UK shoppers demand imported food matches UK standards

The research was carried out in September, following reports that Brexit could lead to imports of lower-quality food products from de-regulated countries and during a critical time for British agriculture – which stands to potentially lose out if a viable alternative to the protection of the EU’s single market is not found post-Brexit.

62% of respondents to the survey believe that British farmers should receive financial support from the taxpayer post-Brexit, while 24% stated that they should receive a fair share of the profit made by retailers on the food they produce (36% disagreed).

The study also found that 16% of consumers would choose to buy food produced to lower animal welfare standards if it was cheaper than the higher standard alternatives. Some countries producing food cheaper than the UK are doing so using methods currently illegal in the UK and Europe – for example, chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef.

Baroness Rosie Boycott, president of BGAJ said, “The results of this study are a stark reminder to government that the public values the high standards of British farming. There will always be countries able to produce cheaper food than Britain but it always comes at a cost. It could be the safety of the food, the farmer, an animal or the environment. With Brexit on the horizon we’re on the brink of potentially seeing lower quality food imports flooding into the country.

“The survey resoundingly shows there’s no appetite for it and it’s the responsibility of government and the entire supply chain to put the safeguards in place to protect both British farmers and the consumer, who’s heads may still be turned by attractive price deals in tough economic conditions, despite how they have responded.”

Tim Lang, professor of food policy at the University of London said, “An overwhelming 84% want imported food to be of the same standard as home produced food. Gung-ho supporters of yoking the UK to the USA post Brexit should note this.

“The survey suggests the UK public almost certainly recognises the need for UK farming to tick lots of boxes. It’s got the message that farming is multi-functional. But have the politicians?”

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