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From the editor: Do substandard imports merit 10,000 mile journey to UK shores?

If we want to preserve the future desirability of British food, then, according to the results of a British Guild of Agricultural Journalists’ (BGAJ) survey, we need to mobilise an army of Brexit voting women over the age of 55 to take charge of the nation’s shopping.

With leave voters more likely to buy British and women over 55 less likely to buy on price compared to men, then a solution is at hand.

 

Sarcasm aside, the BGAJ report provides a fascinating insight into the buying habits of the public, with the findings taking on even greater resonance as the debate and hyperbole about the potential impact of a free trade deal with Australia intensifies.

 

It is hardly surprising, especially given the impact of the pandemic, that a large number of people admit to buying on price. And with concerns about the economy and jobs, who could blame them.

 

And while many of those surveyed look to buy British, there has always been a debate about whether price trumps provenance when people enter the shop and start filling their trolley.


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Turned on its head, however, and the survey shows some of the great opportunities for British agriculture even as symbolic threats such as the Australia deal loom large.

 

After all, what it clearly shows is a demand and awareness among the public for food which is produced to high standards, sustainably and has a low carbon footprint.

 

Perhaps those demands provide a great public relations opportunity for British farming to grasp, especially when our welfare standards are compared to the likes of Australia.

 

And with food’s carbon footprint increasingly becoming a consideration in people’s shopping decisions, surely shipping products such as beef and lamb half way round the world when there is a viable domestic alternative means British produce has the edge.

 

The post-Brexit trading landscape is certainly causing concern among many in agriculture, but maybe it is time for British farming to flip the narrative and start promoting its virtue to a seemingly receptive domestic audience.

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