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Looking abroad: What do consumers elsewhere want?

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The domestic market for home-grown food is strong in the UK, but there are high-value markets in other countries too, which farmers here are well placed to tap into.


Exports are important as they can add value to what farmers produce and help manage fluctuations in market demand and price.


UK farming has a good base to build on, too. When AHDB ran research with consumers in nine countries, it found people associated British food with quality, safety, tradition, heritage and farming.




However, there is a long way to go. Half of those questioned did not associate UK food with anything and in some countries many people had negative perceptions.


Understanding what consumers want and how their choices are influenced will be critical to making a success of these markets.


We looked more closely at AHDB’s research to find out more.


Read More

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Understanding the British shopperUnderstanding the British shopper


  • Quality top priority, then price
  • Competitive price important as there is lots of competition on shelves
  • No strong associations with British food – those which do tend to be negative
  • Leanness of meat important for health choices, but quality and price generally more important


  • Quality is the main priority, followed by price
  • Organic not a big deal for dairy
  • Interest in fresh potatoes starting; until now focus has been on processed. UK expertise in this area has big potential
  • Lots of price-competitive products on shelves
  • Associate imported food with high prices and lack of freshness
  • More than half do not associate GB food with anything. Only 25 per cent have bought GB food



  • Quality most important, followed by price
  • Taste top priority for dairy
  • Appearance, taste and origin important for fruit and veg
  • Quality (origin) main priority for meat
  • More natural/less processed products important for health purchases
  • Most do not associate British food with anything, but when they do it is the most negative of any country listed here


  • Quality top priority
  • Taste is most important determinant of a quality dairy product
  • One in five respondents say animal welfare is important for meat – more than any other country listed.
  • Quality (appearance) most important for meat purchases
  • Appearance, taste and origin are top determinants for judging value when buying fruit and veg

United Arab Emirates

  • Quality and health top priorities
  • Half have no association with GB food, but a quarter have positive perception

Saudi Arabia

  • Quality and what their family likes, are most important
  • Quality most important factor when buying meat, based on safety and origin UK just secured agreement to export sheepmeat
  • Half of respondents said they had no association with GB food, but a quarter have a positive perception


  • Primary concern is foodsafety, due to several food scares. Messaging to provide assurances is critical. Health and quality are key buying drivers too
  • Middle class often sees imported food from West as higher quality/safer
  • Like different meat cuts. Offal, parts such as trotters, and cuts which are high in fat and with bones left in command a premium
  • Dairy is a relatively new, but rapidly expanding market, particularly yoghurt. Category attracting premium products and organic/assurance schemes appeal. Consumers still unfamiliar with cheese
  • Market for potatoes growing
  • Generally positive perception of GB food – 61 per cent say would pay a premium


  • Food safety top priority, with many respondents concerned by the impact of the Fukushima nuclear incident. So messaging to provide assurances is critical
  • Freshness is a key determinant of safety for meat, though this could be an issue for Great Britain, given the logistics
  • For 99% of respondents, animal welfare was not a priority for meat
  • Fatty cuts associated with flavour command a higher price. Lean meat seen as dry/lacking flavour
  • Knowing origin is key determinant when assessing health benefits of meat


  • Quality, then health, top priorities. Food safety also an above average concern
  • Higher price often associated with higher safety
  • Quality is a top priority when buying meat and dairy. Health is the main determinant of quality, followed by food safety. Origin also important
  • Most positive perception of GB food of countries listed, with 65% willing to pay a premium

More information

This research was published in AHDB’s Horizon report on international consumer behaviour using research conducted in August and November 2017, covering about 500 people in each market. To find out more, visit

Shape Your Farming Future series

Shape Your Farming Future series

Shape Your Farming Future is a series of informative and practical guides looking in-depth at issues pertinent to farmers when planning for the future.


The four in this series are supported by The Co-Op and look at Succession, Consumer Trends, Skills and Training and Building Resilience.


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