27 February 2003 | Robin Parker
More than one in five shoppers want supermarkets to stock more British produce, according to a poll from Mintel.
Of the 993 consumers surveyed, more than a fifth complained that stores did not stock enough homegrown fruit and vegetables, and one in 10 said there was not enough British meat on offer. One in eight objected outright to buying imported produce, while almost a quarter sought out local produce in farmers' markets.
Supermarket buyers said they wanted to stock more British food because it was cheaper to source but, as volumes and quality fluctuate, they have to import more than they would like.
Safeway conceded that it stocked less British meat: only 60 per cent of produce was now sourced from the UK compared with 90 per cent in the mid-1990s.
A Sainsbury's spokeswoman said the only sector where demand outstrips supply for British produce is in the organic sector. "Customers are demanding produce all the year round, but some produce is very seasonal, so it is impossible to supply British all the time."
Mintel said in its report, UK Attitudes Towards Buying Local Produce, that food suppliers should introduce regional branding to market their goods as complementary to imported products, rather than as a direct alternative to them.