AHDB’s latest Horizon report said it was critical British producers did not make assumptions their product would have the same relevance across all markets.
New research has suggested producers focusing too heavily on ‘brand Britain’ have jeopardised openings to boost overseas export opportunities.
AHDB’s latest Horizon report said British farmers should instead look to Brexit as an opportunity to monitor international buying behaviours, adapt to each marketplace and develop tailored branding to meet specific domestic demand.
It urged producers to ‘take a step back’ and question why a shopper in one country may choose a British product over all others and how this could differ from the front-of-mind option for somebody elsewhere.
Steven Evans, AHDB consumer insight manager and author of the report, said: “The research looked to capture the reaction to ‘brand Britain’ and understand objectively how other countries see us.
“We found that many consumers have not had direct exposure to British food products and therefore have not had the opportunity to build a firm view on their qualities.
“This highlights that exposure to products and clear branding is necessary to drive awareness and build brand reputation.
“While this may take time, it can also be seen as a blank canvas where exporters have a great opportunity to paint a picture and develop our story in the minds of international consumers.”
The report questioned more than 4,500 consumers in nine countries including China, Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, USA, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.
While seven out of the nine countries selected quality as the most important factor, both China and Japan branded food safety as their main decider.
The results showed quality was important for both meat and dairy, with price featuring second in the list for meat and freshness the second highest purchase motivator for dairy.
Animal welfare came out as a low-level priority after just seven per cent of all respondents included it in their top three.
And of the 37 per cent who said they would pay a premium for British food, 61 per cent came from China, 65 per cent from India, 21 per cent from France and 24 per cent from Germany.
Dr Phil Hadley, AHDB international market development director, said: “We know that a Chinese consumer is comfortable to view the whole journey from farm to fork, but it would be dangerous to assume the same approach across all export markets will result in the same sales performance.
“A one-size-fits-all approach does not allow for customisation and adapting to meet specific domestic demands.
“It is critical British producers do not make assumptions that their product has the same relevance across all markets.”