David Hughes, professor of food marketing at Imperial College, London, said with more consumers turning into ‘foodies’, they demanded food higher in welfare, nutrition and products which were not harmful to the environment.
“Consumer trend tides are moving in our direction,” Prof Hughes told the NFU Conference, adding it was vital farmers ‘told the story’ behind their produce and gave consumers a reason to pay a premium for it.
“How do we want our meat? With adjectives. For example ‘Welsh Black’, ‘free-from’, ‘free-range’, ‘grass-fed’.
“There is a genuine interest in who produces it.”
Prof Hughes said it was a trend which had been replicated all over the world, for example in Thailand, where consumers demanded higher welfare, ‘happy pork’.
He said reducing meat consumption was a growing trend, but while people were eating less, they were looking for higher quality meat ‘which they will pay more for’.
“There is premium meat on the market now, such as dry aged beef, which would not have been seen in the supermarket a few years ago,” said Prof Hughes, who was speaking at the conference’s session on the UK market.
Damian Storie, head of fresh meat development at wholesale distributor Bidvest Foodservice UK, agreed changing consumer habits meant the onus was on the supply chain to produce food with traceability, animal welfare, safety, trust and consistency at its core.
Mr Storie said the company would launch its new Farmstead Foods brand, based around these six attributes, this week.