The Waitrose Food and Drink Report 2021 revealed two-thirds of consumers believed buying products with high assurance of food safety and welfare was more important than price
The pandemic has driven a new appreciation for British producers and standards, but consumers were worried these would drop following the UK’s exit from the EU.
The Waitrose Food and Drink Report 2021 revealed 74 per cent of people wanted more food business to express their support for UK producers and 61 per cent worried there would be a rise in factory-farmed meat coming into the UK if standards were not safeguarded.
More than half of people said they would only buy meat from British-reared animals in the event of a trade deal with a country outside the EU, with almost half saying they would buy more organic produce if the Government struck a deal with a country with higher pesticide use.
And 60 per cent of the public said changes to shopping habits would stick as they moved online and to fewer, bigger shopping trips during the pandemic.
James Bailey, executive director of Waitrose, said the responsibility to keep the nation fed and the prospect of empty shelves had led some businesses to make ‘previously unthinkable decisions’ and allegedly source products farmed to lower standards from outside the UK.
But Mr Bailey said Waitrose had not allowed themselves to use it as an excuse to ‘forget our principles, and we never will’.
“In recent months, there has been considerable debate about UK farming standards,” he added.
“Some observers have claimed that British shoppers would welcome a choice between price and welfare, and that many would accept food imports farmed to lower food standards if benefiting from greater affordability.
“In opposition, I argued earlier this year that customers no longer view standards and value as an “either/ or” but see them as one part of the same package.
“Putting this to the test, we asked 2,000 people living in the UK what they thought of this and two-thirds said categorically that buying products with high assurance of food safety and welfare is more important than price.”
He said the appetite to support homegrown produce was high.
“We do not know what the future holds but the government has shown intent to do the right thing for our nation, which gives me immense confidence moving into 2021.
“Regardless, as I have promised before, our high standards and passion for innovation in the global farming sector will continue strongly into the future.”