Recognition of the Red Tractor logo fell from 78 per cent in 2014 to 70 per cent in 2016 according to England Marketing’s survey of a 1,000 shoppers’ fresh produce buying habits this March.
While 36 per cent of respondents recognised the Soil Association label, compared to 37 per cent in 2014, and recognition of the LEAF logo has risen from 9 per cent in 2014, to 15 per cent this year.
Some 21 per cent of respondents did not recognise any of these labels. But the number of people looking for provenance labels when shopping had increased [see table].
David Clarke, chief executive of Red Tractor Assurance, said the report agreed with Red Tractor’s data.
“Even in these times when there’s serious pressure on food prices, it shows that shoppers are still interested to know that their food is produced by conscientious growers,” he said.
“The report proves that the Red Tractor logo remains by far the most important signpost for shoppers when they buy their fruit and vegetables. More importantly the data indicate continuing growth in shoppers actively looking for Red Tractor labelled products.”
A LEAF spokesman said: “A third of UK-grown fruit and veg come from LEAF Marque certified farms, so consumers may actually be purchasing LEAF Marque produce and not realise it. This is an increase from 25 per cent a year ago.
“There’s still a way to go to increase consumer recognition,” he added.
“Our own research shows that the majority of consumers believe sustainable farming is important. One of the biggest drivers to achieving recognition of the logo is helping consumers engage directly with their food and where it comes from. This weekend’s Open Farm Sunday for example provides a fantastic way for people to learn more.”
Clare McDermott, business development director at Soil Association Certification, added: “Recognition of organic labels, especially Soil Association organic, remains strong despite reduction in other symbol recognition.
“We know the organic market is growing (4.9 per cent according to this year’s Soil Association Organic Market Report) and that consumers are searching for more ethical products, like organic. Nearly two thirds of Soil Association licensees are predicting growth in 2016.”