You Gov / AHDB data shows that younger consumers, in particular, are becoming much more price conscious, as the economic impact of the Covid 19 pandemic begins to take affect.
49% of consumers aged 16-44 say they have become more price conscious in the past month.
According to You Gov, the cost of food has now become the biggest consideration for shoppers (65%), ahead of preparation time (59%) and health (58%).
Early on the pandemic created an increased desire amongst consumers to support more local businesses. However latest data from November indicates only 44% will continue to look to buy British after the pandemic is over - the lowest proportion yet. This presents a real challenge for farmers selling high quality milk, meat and other food from sustainable farms, as people switch to cheaper cuts of meat and basic, own-label products.
I urge everyone to think carefully about their food choices before making snap decisions to ‘trade down’. Your choices have a huge impact on your health, the livelihoods of farmers, the welfare of farm animals and the future of our planet.
Now, more than ever, it is essential we do everything we can to safeguard the future of British farms, in order to ensure we have a secure supply of healthy and affordable food for the future.
A report published by the House of Commons Library in February 2020, stated that "Food security is a global issue, but for many people it is also a very immediate concern. Households in the UK want to have access to affordable, nutritious food, while governments want to ensure access to sufficient and safe food. Meanwhile global issues such as climate change, trade and conflict are challenges to the world’s ability to feed a growing population".
The UK is now only 61% self-sufficient in all foods and UK self-sufficiency has been declining for the past 30 years. Brexit and the task of establishing new trade deals pose a considerable threat to the future of our food.
We have the capacity to produce a vast quantity of high quality food from British farms, to feed our nation. But, unfortunately, the hunger for profit in the food supply chain is driving big food businesses to focus on opportunities to export food, in an attempt to add value, rather than deliver real food to the people in our own towns and cities.
In a recent article in The Sunday Times, investigative food journalist Joanna Blythman said "The practice of 'Locavorism', the practice of eating locally produced food, is too readily dismissed as a niche activity. Successive governments have fixated on exports and delegated responsibility for feeding the nation to supermarkets, whose opaque, strung-out, globalised food-procurement methods now look precarious, liable to disruption and bad for the environment".
If we are to create a food system that truly delivers what farmers and consumers need, we must back British farming, by sourcing more of the food we want direct from farms. Whilst the pressure on purses is real and some face very difficult choices, I hope more people will look to eat less and better, rather than turn to inferior quality milk and meat.
Produce & Provide is on a mission to connect more people with the farmers who produce great British food and empower them to make food choices that match their own tastes and values.
Please take a look at our website map and find out more about local farmers near you who offer a range of great tasting food for sale direct from their farms. You will be amazed by how good it tastes and pleasantly surprised at how affordable it is. Remember to look local!