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Consumers lacking knowledge to support British farmers

Half of consumers think we should produce more food in Britain, but 95% are unaware how much food is already grown here. More than a quarter say they buy more British food than they did five years ago, and the same number are happy to pay more for British food. Many consumers still struggle with basic food knowledge: nearly a quarter of consumers do not know eggs come from chickens, or that bacon comes from pigs

A new sur­vey, car­ried out by LEAF (Link­ing Envi­ron­ment And Farm­ing) ahead of this weekend’s Open Farm Sun­day, revealed that con­sumers want to sup­port British farm­ers, although some may already be doing so with­out even real­is­ing. Although many con­sumers think we should pro­duce more food in Britain, the major­i­ty are unaware how much our farm­ers already grow.

Near­ly half of con­sumers (48%) said they thought British farm­ers should pro­duce more of our own food, but the sur­vey revealed that peo­ple vast­ly under­es­ti­mate how much is already pro­duced in this coun­try. Although we are cur­rent­ly 60% self-suf­fi­cient in the UK, con­sumers on aver­age believed this to be clos­er to 35%. The coun­try of ori­gin (42%) was the third most pop­u­lar pur­chase dri­ver for fresh food choic­es, with price (74%) and spe­cial offers (51%) the only fac­tors prov­ing more influ­en­tial. More than a quar­ter (27%) of those sur­veyed say they buy more British food than they did five years ago, and the same num­ber said they were hap­py to pay more for food pro­duced in Britain. 

The sur­vey also revealed that over a quar­ter of those ques­tioned (26%) had nev­er vis­it­ed a farm. On aver­age, those ques­tioned had not vis­it­ed a work­ing farm in over nine years. 

Michael Sly, 47, farmer, MHS Farms, Thor­ney who is join­ing hun­dreds of farms in open­ing his gates for this weekend’s Open Farm Sun­day said: It’s reas­sur­ing that peo­ple want to sup­port British farm­ers and are even will­ing to pay more to do so. The results high­light the impor­tance of strength­en­ing the public’s con­nec­tion with farm­ing and food. Open Farm Sun­day is a fan­tas­tic way to do this. We’re hop­ing that by get­ting peo­ple out onto a farm this week­end they can find out more about what, and how much food, we pro­duce in this country.” 

Wor­ry­ing­ly the sur­vey also revealed that many adults still strug­gle to under­stand basic food knowl­edge, such as which food comes from which crop or ani­mal. More than one in four peo­ple ques­tioned (26%) were unable to iden­ti­fy that milk came from a dairy cow, one in five (22%) did not know that eggs came from chick­ens, and just under a quar­ter (23%) were unaware that bacon comes from pigs. More than half of those ques­tioned (51%) also didn’t make the link between a dairy cow and but­ter, and more than a third (37%) could not con­nect steak with beef cattle. 

Even when it comes to pop­u­lar prod­ucts like beer, por­ridge or mus­tard, many fail to make the con­nec­tion to what is grown on a British farm. Only one in five could iden­ti­fy a pic­ture of bar­ley as an ingre­di­ent in beer, and only one in sev­en knew that oats were used in por­ridge. Mean­while, six­teen per­cent didn’t know crops used for break­fast cere­als are grown in this coun­try and four in ten (42%) were unaware that mus­tard seed is grown on British farms. 

Annabel Shack­le­ton, Open Farm Sun­day Man­ag­er at LEAF added: Open Farm Sun­day is the ide­al oppor­tu­ni­ty for peo­ple of all ages to vis­it a farm and dis­cov­er more about the world of farm­ing and the sto­ry behind their food. By spend­ing time on a farm, talk­ing to farm­ers and to the many oth­er pro­fes­sion­als involved in the indus­try – from agron­o­mists to vets — the day offers a unique insight into this vital indus­try and helps peo­ple to val­ue the work farm­ers do and the food they eat.” 

To view the full press release click here.

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