Nine in 10 shoppers say food production must be fair and sustainable

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
19 August 2016

More than nine in 10 consumers believe firms should ensure food production is fair and sustainable, according to research.

A survey, carried out by GlobeScan for the Fairtrade Foundation, also found 85% thought it was the responsibility of government to ensure this.

GlobeScan found two thirds believed responsibly-sourced food was more expensive, but 58% would be willing to pay more for products associated with better prices and fairer wages for farmers and workers. Just over half would pay more for food that does not damage the environment in the long term.

Some 63% of respondents believed UK farmers suffered from low prices and a similar proportion (64%) thought farmers in developing countries were underpaid.

Shoppers also believed avoiding child and slave labour should be priorities for the government in improving food production, followed by food safety and safe working conditions for producers.

However, while consumers associated low prices with unsustainable practices, the link between low prices and future food security was less clear to them, with just 43% making this connection.

Michael Gidney, CEO at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “British people are giving a strong message to companies and the government about the kind of trade we want to see and now, more than ever, they must prioritise fairer, greener, more sustainable food production. Therefore progressive, responsible businesses will want to respond to their customers’ desire to see them treat farmers and workers fairly.

“And the public’s views on the importance of ensuring the human rights of farmers and workers is a clear sign to the government to prioritise these issues and improve working conditions across supply chains.”

Abbie Curtis, senior project manager at GlobeScan, said: “This research shows very clearly that British consumers expect businesses and government to take action to ensure the fairness and long-term sustainability of food production, both here at home and in developing countries. It is important for retailers and food companies, alongside government, to respond to this and take appropriate steps towards meeting these expectations.”

The research involved an online survey of 1,004 consumers in the UK, weighted to be nationally representative by age, gender and region. 

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